How much do you remember about your college gym? Not much most likely. Many university fitness centers are unremarkable, but that’s not so for the dynamic Roberts Pavilion, an eco-friendly campus building at Claremont McKenna College that serves as an athletics center and social hub. Designed by Los Angeles-based John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, the light-filled complex boasts a bevy of sustainable features including bioswales, cool roofs, low-flow water fixtures, and more.



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From the outside, the Roberts Pavilion looks more like a sculpture than your typical campus building. Clad in terracotta, the building achieves a sense of lightness despite its large size. Red and yellow accents on the facade reference the school and team colors. Large rounded cutouts and twelve-foot-tall floor-to-ceiling glazing wrap around the building to frame views of the campus and mountains beyond, as well as to bring in copious amounts of natural light. Though the building was originally designed for athletics and recreation, students have since adapted Roberts Pavilion as the new center of campus life and make use of its spaces for study sessions, meetings, and social gatherings.

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“We wanted this to be a special environment,” said John Friedman, principle-in-charge. “A place where people would want to spend their entire day and a building unlike any other on campus.” In addition to the Robert Pavilion’s use of natural materials for the facade, the interior features exposed concrete and terrazzo floors, bamboo, and low-VOC carpets, paint, and sealers. Cool roofs reduce heat gain, while non-glare, fritted skylights and strategically placed glazing takes advantage of California’s sun for maximum natural light. In response to California’s need for water conservation, the architects installed low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce water use, drought-resistant plants, and bioswales that collect and naturally filter stormwater. Highly efficient equipment, intelligent design that includes sensors, and use of a central cooling plant on campus also help minimize energy use.

+ John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects

Images via John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects, by Benny Chan