Sollenberger Sports Center and Eisenhower Dining Hall Additions and Renovations


To recruit top students in a highly competitive environment, colleges and universities must offer the best overall student experience. The expansion of its sports center and campus dining facility were core components of Messiah University’s Student Enhancement Project, an initiative designed to promote wellness and recreation while integrating environmentally conscious energy sources throughout the campus. As the college implemented a new combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) plant, it saw an opportunity to use projected energy savings to help fund facility expansions that would improve student and employee fitness, as well as support Messiah’s nationally ranked sports teams.

The newly expanded Sollenberger Sports Center features a 15,000-square-foot fitness center, a two-court auxiliary gymnasium, a renovated main arena with expanded seating, an upgraded natatorium, a larger wrestling facility, new locker rooms, and renovated offices. The addition to the Lottie Nelson Dining Hall at the Eisenhower Campus Center relieves overcrowding by providing 250 new seats and a multifunctional space for student activities. New access control, communication, and building control systems improve the efficiency and security of both facilities. Forty-two new covered parking spaces were created below the sports center addition.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and geotechnical services for the additions and alterations to both buildings. To keep the existing facilities in operation, engineers developed a plan to complete the projects over multiple phases. Our team also designed the college’s new combined cooling, heat, and power system that serves the sports center and dining hall concurrently. HVAC system modifications incorporated separate existing chilled water systems into a common chilled water system, providing system redundancy and reducing the total connected chilled water requirement of separate systems. General power distribution system improvements included new electrical service that supplies switchgear with an integral automatic transfer switch to support a natural gas-powered emergency generator system.

The 35,000-square-foot addition to the athletics center consisted of a steel-framed structure with composite steel floors, long-span roof trusses, and a rigid-frame lateral system. The floors were analyzed for vibrations due to rhythmic activity to make sure students and faculty are comfortable when using the facility. Micropiles were utilized for the additions to avoid interference with the foundations of adjacent buildings. Interior structural modifications also were required in the natatorium, Hitchcock Arena, and the existing weight room. The 7,600-square-foot dining addition utilized long-span steel joists to achieve a column-free space.

Key Features

  • A glass wall along the entire length of the fitness center provides natural light and views of the nearby intramural fields.
  • The addition creates a centralized locker space for athletic teams and expands the wrestling area.
  • A 12,450-square-foot auxiliary gym offers two basketball courts for team practice and recreational use.
  • The renovated Hitchcock Arena provides seating for an additional 900 spectators.
  • The new Alumni Plaza outside the expanded dining hall creates a welcoming space for outdoor dining and events.

Awards & Recognition

  • Climate Champion Honorable Mention, 2018, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) of Central Pennsylvania.


  • A 15,000-square-foot fitness center addition supports athletes, students, and staff wellness.
  • A two-court gymnasium addition expands team practice and student recreation space.
  • Renovations to Hitchcock Arena and the natatorium improve the spectator experience.
  • A 7,600-square-foot dining hall addition creates a multifunctional space with 250 new seats.
  • New access controls and communication systems enhance security at both buildings.
  • The new combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) system reduces Messiah’s energy consumption and carbon footprint.
  • New energy-efficient LED lighting provides 32 percent more watts-per-square-foot than required by code.
  • The additions to both facilities maximize daylight and views for building occupants.
  • A new rain garden outside the dining addition aids in stormwater management.


Messiah University


Mechanicsburg, Pa.


Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, Structural, Geotechnical

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