Construction on the new Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center started in spring 2021 and is expected to be complete in 2023.
Designed by architecture and design teams Kahler Slater and HOK, the new center will house a variety of amenities including:
- A 25-yard recreational pool
- A sub-zero ice arena
- An indoor track
- Well-being services such as massage therapy and meditation
- A teaching kitchen for nutrition programs
The building will complement the Nicholas Recreation Center, which opened on the southeast side of campus in 2020.
“Both the Nicholas Recreation Center and Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center projects were built upon our inclusive design efforts and prioritize an easy-to-navigate, efficient and flexible building,” said Aaron Hobson, the director of Recreation and Wellbeing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison). “Compared to the Nicholas Recreation Center’s bustling downtown location, we are excited for the unique opportunities the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center presents, namely its proximity to Lake Mendota and the Lakeshore Path. We look forward to presenting campus with a unique facility that fulfills the needs of current and future Badgers to come.”
Hobson elaborated both facilities’ designs serve the recreation and well-being needs of students on their end of campus.
Each has similar elements, including:
- Eight courts.
- Five multipurpose rooms.
- A swimming pool.
- Indoor jogging track.
- A significant increase in strength and fitness spaces.
Speaking on the design of the new center, Gene Lund, a senior project architect and project manager at HOK, said it responds to the students’ strong desires to experience the unique natural landscape of Lake Mendota and its Lakeshore Path.
“Embracing these idyllic views was the primary goal during programming of activity and fitness spaces,” said Lund. “The building’s massing was formed around these views. And, it also respectfully sets back to honor the Ho-Chunk Nation’s historic presence on campus and the earthen effigy mounds immediately north of the site. Further refinement through thoughtful pedestrian circulation, analysis to bring daylight deep into the interior while controlling glare, and a material palette of natural hues and textures roots the project to the site while setting a new standard for how to embed a student-centered campus building in nature — a new welcoming and inclusive hub of fitness, health and well-being on UW-Madison’s campus.”
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Another unique aspect of the new center is The Wolf Teaching Kitchen. “Programs and services will include nutritional counseling to help students develop healthy relationships with food, cooking workshops to help students learn to make basic nutritional meals, and it offers a space to produce ongoing nutritional lectures,” said Hobson.
UW-Madison looks forward to the completion of the new center. And finally, Hobson shared he is most excited about the dedication of the square footage to well-being, including mental health. “The well-being suite will be home to a number of new programs and services. It will serve as a satellite for other healthcare providers on campus,” he said. “The well-being suite will include processing spaces, massage therapy rooms, a mind/body studio, teaching kitchen and a relaxation room.”
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