Indian Creek Recreation Area Receives National Award
As Georgia State University students walk the concrete sidewalks of the Atlanta campus, they may not be associating their university with an award-winning outdoor facility nestled in the peaceful, wooded setting of Stone Mountain, Georgia. That may change soon. This past April, Georgia State’s Indian Creek Recreation Area (ICRA) received the 2016 NIRSA Outstanding Outdoor Sports Facilities Award at the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) conference in Kissimmee, Florida. The award recognizes the innovative designs of new, renovated or expanded collegiate recreational facilities of NIRSA Member Institutions. The award honors facilities that demonstrate excellence in a number of critical areas including architectural design, functionality and how well the facility meets its intended purpose.
Georgia State purchased the 15.5-acre property in 1938, and it served as the institution’s first recreational offering for students. Recreational Services began managing the property in 1991, and, within the last five years, the department has built a new meeting and event center called the Lodge, a new state of the art ropes course and the Outpost to support the Challenge Program and has replaced deteriorating tennis courts with a beautiful three quarter acre Event Lawn.
The Lodge, which is Georgia State’s first LEED-Certified building, includes a palette of earthy textures and colors, incorporating reclaimed barn wood, stone and granite throughout. The high ropes course is over 130 feet long and has two levels topping out 38 feet above the ground. The three ziplines off the course total nearly 1000 feet and include the option to land adjacent to the property’s prized Indian Trail Tree, which is nearly 300 years old. The design is the first of its kind for team challenge courses and was conceptualized by Recreational Services staff, led by the department’s outdoor coordinator, Carson Tortorige, who also played a lead role in designing the Outpost. Tortorige reflects on this experience, stating,
The amount of information I learned about contracts, building requirements, costs and program design was tremendous. I am grateful for sitting in, voicing and helping make design considerations in meetings.
~ Carson Tortorige
The Outpost, also designed in part by Tortorige, is a support facility for the Challenge Program, offering a large pavilion space, interior storage, a prep kitchen and two unisex restrooms. Groups as large as 60 can eat lunch and participate in ground school before taking that first big step onto the entrance point of the course, a large cargo net leading to the main platform. Finally, the three quarter acre Event Lawn provides students with a plush, green space that is ideal for cookouts, sports and small concerts.
Many agree that the versatility of the property is a leading factor in why ICRA was selected as an award winner.
All four elements combined form a tremendous and dynamic offering. A group can choose to be challenged to the max, play games, eat and relax, host a speaker series, or hold a business meeting all within our property.
~ Allen Wilbanks, assistant director of facilities
The enthusiasm of the Recreational Services’ staff about this award, and about the property in general, is evident when the topic comes us.
I have worked for several institutions, large and small, and I have never seen anything quite like ICRA. I believe its diverse offerings and beautiful setting make it the award-winning property that it is. I feel very lucky to be a part of something so special.
~ Ellen Kinsey, coordinator of ICRA
ICRA is truly a jewel for Georgia State University!
~ Allen Wilbanks
Recreational Services is proud of this accomplishment and how it reflects the department’s commitment to providing the higher education experience desired and valued by its most important users, the students. In addition, the property houses over 100 university department meetings and retreats each year.
Both student organizations and university departments are always in need of off campus destinations for retreats, university celebrations and team building. ICRA provides all the amenities these groups need at a very convenient and welcoming location.
~ Melissa Buchheit, director of Recreational Services
Buchheit also noted the popularity of the property just within its first couple of years of re-opening, and how the momentum will only continue as more and more users experience its beauty.
Regardless of how much we market ICRA, the real selling point is actually attending a function there. Every event we host leads to questions and reservations from attendees for future events. Recreational Services has been successful in creating first class facilities in a rustic and nurturing environment, and we are honored to be recognized for that by our peers nationally.
~ Melissa Buchheit