UConn Building Features Vertical Wood Rainscreen

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The old recreation center building at the University of Connecticut was far too small and had outgrown the needs of the student population years ago. The new recreation center at UConn is much larger and in keeping with the needs of the growing student body. The Ipe hardwood rainscreen siding is exceptional and brings warmth and natural beauty to the campus, inside and out.

UConn Rec Center exterior rainscreen under constructionExterior of UConn Rec Center with hardwood rainscreen siding, during construction

In addition to a welcoming entrance façade, properly designed rainscreens add a healthy dimension to modern designs, too. From the outside, rainscreens prevent exterior wind-driven rain snow, and moisture from entering the building. On the inside, trapped moisture can escape.  The architectural teams at JCJ, in collaboration with Moody Nolan, designed the new 190,000-square-foot structure.

Ipe rainscreen on UConn exterior facade at main entrance

High-performance Ipe hardwood rainscreen on the front entry facade

Achieving LEED Gold Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a key design goal for this project. Earning this certification requires a high level of commitment to both the building design and the selection of building materials. The rainscreen system helped the sustainable design aspects of this project in many ways. First, the Ipe hardwood rainscreen siding, responsibly harvested by environmentally friendly, sustained yield forestry methods, meets the project needs. Secondly, Ipe hardwood siding is exceptionally durable and long-lasting, which helps reduce life cycle costs.

Hardwood rainscreen at UConn closeup at front entry 

Closeup of exterior vertical hardwood rainscreen facade at the campus entrance


Further, the design incorporated z-girts and exterior insulation for energy efficiency. The Climate-Shield rainscreen clips fasten directly to the z-girts. The high-performance walls contribute to sustainable design credits for this project. The rainscreen system provides pressure equalization for additional efficacy and sustainability.

On a college campus full of brick, concrete, and glass buildings, the all-natural hardwood rainscreen accent on the new Recreation Center stands out. The natural beauty of real wood siding makes a warm invitation and statement to students and visitors alike. The vertical wood rainscreen adds an exciting and welcoming appeal to this exceptional structure.

Ipe rainscreen and fins at UConn Rec Center street side entrance

Hardwood rainscreen siding and architectural fin elements on the street facade


On the exterior façades, the Ipe hardwood siding, installed vertically, creates a dramatic statement on the main entrance and other entries. Real wood vertical ‘fin’ elements create a 3-dimensional accent. The dimensional Ipe hardwood fins, fastened to the rainscreen siding, adds more visual excitement and appeal.  They specified a natural rosewood oil finish for the hardwood siding. Pre-finishing exterior hardwoods is a best practice, both for beauty and also as an initial UV protection coat to allow the wood to season. As the wood naturally weathers over time, the wood siding can either be refinished, or allowed to naturally weather to a silvery gray natural patina.

Ipe rainscreen makes great architectural inside Uconn Rec Center-1

Natural hardwood rainscreen theme carries indoors from the outside for beauty and design balance

The design team brought the natural beauty of the exterior siding inside, too. To keep the natural design scheme flowing from the outside, Ipe hardwood cladding was installed similarly to the exterior façade. The interior walls feature Ipe hardwood siding, placed strategically, in many areas. The natural beauty can’t be missed and continues its welcoming presence throughout the building.


Vertical Ipe rainscreen installation indoors

Hardwood rainscreen siding and fins are installed vertically indoors, too


The new rec center building is over 190,000 square feet and features a healthy host of activities and amenities for the students. Including a fitness center, strength training, 6 full-size basketball courts, 6 volleyball courts, racquetball courts, a climbing wall, a badminton court, a lap pool, an aquatics center, a track, and a wellness center. And you don’t have to be a Division 1 athlete to reap the benefits and remain healthy and fit at UConn. The recreation center is open to all students.

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We hope you enjoyed this article. Please visit MataverdeDecking.com for more information about rainscreen design, and other wood siding options, browse our rainscreen galleries, and more.


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