Physical Education Complex


For Cecil College, this was a transformative renovation and addition project to an academic and athletic facility that was conceived as, and delivered, a dramatic new direction for academic architecture on campus. The building’s location at the campus edge is a pivotal intersection of the existing campus and an area planned for future expansion, making it a focal point on the campus and a locus for cross-campus traffic. An eye-catching re-invention of the existing facility was a must.

The building challenge was to modify an existing 1970’s vintage “brick box” and create a new campus focus, both visually and in terms of interior and exterior gathering space. MCA leveraged program and budget parameters as much as possible to “re-image” over 75% of the existing building envelope, creating a new iconic image for the campus and setting a strong precedent for future campus expansions. The multi-purpose facility meets a range of curricular, varsity, recreational and community-at-large needs, and the expanded Physical Education Complex was designed for flexibility and easy access. A monumental terraced amphitheater space carved into the existing hillside became a new campus focal point around which this project, and future campus buildings, could be organized. In fact, the subsequently MCA-designed Science & Mathematics Building organization and form launched from the starting point created by the PE facility and outdoor space.

Renovations to this 40-year-old facility replaced or upgraded all major building systems, technologies, finishes, and fixtures and brought the building into compliance with all statutory requirements while meeting the present and future academic and athletic needs identified in the campus programs strategic plan. New additions wrapped the entire western and southern facades of the facility, completely changing the architectural presence on campus. Extensive visual display systems and customized artwork inside serve to reinforce the sense of building and campus community.

At night, the entire building projects as a beacon, giving the campus a new dramatic visual landscape during evening hours.

Project Highlights

  • A new east/west circulation walkway links new commuter parking on the east to the new lobby on the west, passing over a new pedestrian bridge/ lobby and dramatically passing by the open gymnasium space below
  • New two-story atrium lobby connects upper and lower entrance while providing surge space for games, tournaments and public events. It incorporates a Hall of Fame, video display wall and concessions area with seating
  • The hillside side requires access form two levels, which formerly meant two separate entrances and no building "presence". The dramatic new lobby entrance combines the two entrance experiences into one combined space
  • Site work was extensive, including new commuter parking, athletic fields, tennis courts and stormwater management facilities, including a large bio-retantion pond that can be used for academic studies in the sciences
  • The stepped form of the addition on the south side was generated by the presence of a regulated wetlands area that encroached close to the existing building footprint
  • Athletics programs benefitted from a completely refurbished gymnasium, and a new training facility, locker and team rooms, an new athletics office suite overlooking the gymnasium
  • Academic program benefited from new technology rich classrooms, acoustically segregated from the open public spaces, as well as meeting and work space
  • Site work also included the creation of an outside monumental "amphitheater" space with grass covered terraces overlooking a brick paved courtyard
  • New fitness center overlooks the center of campus and is highly visible from both the lobby and the exterior
  • High-density storage systems were utilized to efficiently utilize space.

Have a question about this project?

Contact Richard Barton, AIA at

Project Details

Professional Expertise

Higher Education

Professional Services

Architecture | Interior Design | Planning + Programming | Sustainability

Get Started With MCA Today

Contact Us