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Wellness Center

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2010–2011, RDG Planning and Design. 1031 N. University St.
  • (Photograph by Michelle Dennis)

The Wellness Center at the University of South Dakota (USD) is a recent addition to the Vermillion campus. Located just east of the DakotaDome on the north end of the campus, the nearly 57,000-square-foot facility provides exercise, training, and fitness amenities; multiple recreation courts and a three-lane track; group fitness studios for aerobics, Pilates, and yoga; and state-of-the-art workout areas and equipment. Its folded-plate zinc roof forms a strong profile against the flat landscape of the surrounding athletic fields.

The distinctive roof covers glazed aluminum curtain walls on the west (street-facing) and north facades, capturing views and natural light to the north and enclosing a 38-foot-high climbing wall, a feature of the main entrance. Outside the entrance, a screen wall shields against harsh winter winds. The rear of the structure is constructed of brick masonry walls and native granite. Interior materials reflect the exterior scheme, and include locally quarried quartzite stone, polished concrete floors, and exposed steel and ductwork. Designed by RDG Planning and Design of Des Moines, Iowa, the Wellness Center has a LEED-Silver Certification, and features such green strategies as storm water design, low-flow water fixtures, sustainably harvested wood products, and daylighting.

This building type indicates the growing interest in higher education to improve student wellness, that is, in terms of physical and mental health. By investing in wellness centers, universities hope to offer students the opportunity to create balance outside of the classroom. The Wellness Center is meant to serve the larger Vermillion community as well—local residents can also purchase memberships to use the facility.


“University of South Dakota – Wellness Center.” RDG Planning and Design. Accessed February 13, 2020.

Watts, Pam. “A New Model for Campus Health: Integrating Well-Being into Campus Life.” Leadership Exchange: Solutions for Student Affairs Management 15, no. 3 (Fall 2017).

“Wellness Center.” University of South Dakota. Accessed February 13, 2020.

“Wellness Center is a ‘Healthy’ Addition to USD Campus.” Sioux City Journal (Sioux City, SD), February 27, 2011.

Writing Credits

Michelle L. Dennis



  • 2010


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Michelle L. Dennis, "Wellness Center", [Vermillion, South Dakota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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