Virginia Tech recreational sports' recently renovated and expanded McComas Hall was selected as a 2011 National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association Outstanding Sports Facilities Award winner. 

The winners were selected by the NIRSA Board of Directors and the NIRSA Outstanding Sports Facilities Committee based on creative, innovative designs of new, renovated, or expanded collegiate recreational facilities. According to NIRSA, each winner is considered a standard by which other collegiate recreational facilities should be measured.

The awards will be presented at the 2011 NIRSA Annual Conference and Recreational Sports Exposition in New Orleans on April 13. “Being selected as a NIRSA Outstanding Sports Facilities award winner means that we have given the students of Virginia Tech a quality facility they can be proud of,” said Chris Wise, director of Virginia Tech recreational sports.

Judges evaluated each facility for architectural design, functionality, the use of technology, and how well it met its intended purpose.

McComas Hall opened to students in 1998 with 61,000 square feet of recreation space. As a result of the ever-increasing popularity of recreation, the facility was expanded by 26,000 square feet and opened to students last fall. The expansion is located predominantly at the south end of the building, adjacent to Rector Field House. The expansion addresses the primary need for additional cardio equipment and strength training spaces by providing two areas of approximately 8,000 square feet for each of these activities. Approximately 140 additional pieces of cardio equipment and 70 pieces of strength training equipment were added to the facility.

“In our case, we had such a small area for cardio users and weight equipment users, it was important for us to provide much more space to those two ever-growing forms of fitness,” said Wise. “We not only concentrated on the size commitment to those spaces, but also to the visual impact and feel of them.”

The design features of the expanded and renovated McComas Hall are visually striking. Integrated technology can be found throughout the facility, such as the LED-flat screen televisions, biometric hand scanners, visual technology, and marketing displays. Virginia Tech color schemes, logo, and Hokie Stone on the interior walls have been added throughout the building.

After opening the expanded area of McComas Hall, the number of fitness facility users immediately increased by approximately 38 percent. That increase maintained itself across the entire fall semester. The facility set a new all-time record for usage on the first day of the spring semester with 4,451 students coming to work out. 

“Since Virginia Tech expanded and renovated McComas, I look forward to going to the gym,” said Kim Bereznak from Powhatan, Va., a senior majoring in accounting in the Pamplin College of Business. “The vibe in the new McComas Hall is very innovative and modern, which makes working out fun.”

McComas Hall’s national recognition can only enhance the interest of potential students. “Many of today's college students are comparing not only academic programs, resident halls, and dining facilities, but also fitness centers,” said Wise. “With health concerns being what they are in today's society, many students are also interested in the recreational and fitness facilities and programs that a campus has to offer.” 

Hughes Group Architects from Sterling, Va.; Whiting-Turner Contracting Company from Baltimore, Md.; Virginia Tech's University Planning, Design, and Construction offices; and the staff of the recreational sports worked together to make this project successful.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Hannah Wilson, of Danville, Va., a senior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.