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MSU Women's Basketball Program: Relaxation Room

A space of refuge for players seeking relaxation and recovery

The women’s locker room expansion at Breslin Student Events Center is the final piece to the Michigan State University Basketball Program’s holistic approach to athletic development. The Relaxation Room allows athletes to escape from stress and decompress. According to research, emotional and mental wellbeing is equally important to boost academic and athletic productivity.

Working in conjunction with the MSU Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Suzy Merchant, ROSSETTI transformed a storage space into a 500 SF Recovery Room for the women’s basketball team. One of the design goals of the client was to make the space completely void of any Spartan branding, allowing the players to completely escape from their demanding life as a student athlete.

“Student athletes are constantly surrounded by noise, whether it’s in the classroom, from fans, coaches, or friends. The goal was to create a relaxing space where the student athlete can catch a nap or just de-stress in a spa-like setting,” says Matt Taylor, the Design Lead on the project. 

The Relaxation Room features two sensory deprivation pods which are equipped with headphones, custom-lighting per the users’ preferences, and a custom-mounted “happy light.” The happy light allows the athlete to absorb safe, full-spectrum light therapy - ideal for the winter blues caused by sunlight deprivation during the winter months - especially in the Midwest. Each pod is surrounded by a sheer curtain to give the option of adding additional privacy for the student athlete. In addition to the pods, the room also features an infrared sauna, masseuse table and a working fireplace.

The design approach focuses on the separation of public and private, and the incorporation of technology for recovery. The use of architecture, technology and finishes creates different types of user experience: Private, Semi Private, and Open. Each level of experience provides unique opportunities for rest, recovery, meditation, team building, and flexibility. 

The private user experience emphasizes the individual player being able to create a room within a room – making the environment their own with audio, lighting, and video. The semi-private experience is an open environment with sleep pod technology. This allows the player to block out the outside environment with shear curtains that separate each of the two pods. While the open user experience gives players the option to relax while still being able to converse with other athletes within the space – this provides flexibility, gives a sense of community, and provides a social platform for teammates.

“We’ve always been focused on the physical recovery of student athletes but exploring this project really taught us that psychological and emotional recovery are just important,” says Matt.

Additional design details include archways, specialty lighting, ceiling details featuring wood slat finishes and marble tile floors.  Wood slat walls are outfitted with acoustic material to buffer sound. This new locker room addition is an experience unique to Michigan State Women’s Basketball Program to help maintain a healthy lifestyle for the athletes.