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Margot Connell Recreation Center
at Boston College

Chestnut Hill, MA

A lively new recreation center at Boston College is helping to redefine the academic institution’s health and wellness culture. The 245,000 sq. ft. facility houses a fitness center, rock-climbing wall, jogging track, aquatics center, sport courts, and yoga studios – providing students with a one-stop destination for all of their fitness needs.

To create the space, designers needed a material that could support vast, open recreation areas on multiple floors and withstand the constant drum of running feet, dribbling balls, and other high-intensity sports. Precast concrete was the obvious choice.

The structure includes two long-span precast concrete frame types that deliver a unique combination of pre-tensioning, hard-bar post-tensioning, and unbonded strand post-tensioning. It is supplemented by conventional mild-steel reinforcement to deliver a column-free space. In addition to gravity loads, the frames provide lateral force-resisting systems to satisfy seismic performance criteria.

The long-span frames each feature five precast concrete components to achieve the best possible combination of functional aesthetics. To ensure the highest level of control, the project was accomplished with a staged construction analysis, where each stage required consideration of prestressing and shoring to avoid cracks in the concrete and to support subsequent construction stages.


The structure had to span long distances over a swimming pool and basketball court while still providing adequate support to control the vibration from human foot traffic and activities within the building.


The versatility of precast concrete for this project satisfied all of the structural requirements for the recreation center while still providing a product that allowed us to achieve the aesthetic needs of such a high-profile complex.

Forming, pouring, and winter-heating for cast-in-place construction versus precast erection would have had negative impacts on schedule and appearance. It was a very challenging project where we had to think outside the box, but the final product came out great.

Scott Long, Prime Steel Erection