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Modern Recreation in a 1926 Building

University of Nebraska–Lincoln
East Campus Recreation Center

Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

By preserving the historic East Campus Activities Center, the design enabled the university to build more space within its budget while incorporating a modern “jewel box” addition.

Built in 1926, the East Campus Activities Center could no longer satisfy the recreation and wellness needs of students on the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln campus. Though previous studies recommended tearing down the building, HOK’s solution expanded recreation programming while preserving its historic character.

The design embraces the existing building’s brick and stone architecture while adding a modern glass structure that houses new fitness space and showcases the recreation activities taking place inside.

Fitness elements including a cardio loft, weight training areas and group fitness studios are on the perimeter of the glass addition. In the core spaces, an open layout encourages interaction by increasing visibility and connectivity between programs and the two multipurpose gymnasiums.

A running track highlights the juxtaposition of old and new by winding around the existing gymnasium, through the glass addition and back into the old building.

Locker rooms, offices and a gymnasium within the existing building were carefully renovated to maintain the historic charm of the original space. A small portion of the addition that blends with the existing building has office space and a terrace roof. 

An expanded lobby area and a new wellness clinic with a demonstration kitchen provide staff with more opportunities for customer service, wellness programs and education. 

HOK worked with Sinclair Hille Architects on the project.


56,000 sq. ft. / 5,200 sq. m.


Facility Programming
Graphic Design
Interior Design 


Preservation Association of Lincoln – Integration of Old and New Award