Green-lighted SRC expansion shown off by planners
Planners for a 110,000-square-foot expansion of the University of Oregon’s Student Recreation Center got things moving recently with their first public presentation of the project, which received a green light in this spring’s student elections.
About 30 Rec Center members attended the April 30 event, which featured newly-completed schematic drawings of the expansion and a 45-minute presentation by architect Jack Patton of RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines, Iowa.
“This will take your existing building and bring it much more in line with what you need to compete with your peers,” Patton told his audience.
About a dozen universities around the nation have built new student recreation facilities or renovated existing ones in recent years. Four Pac-12 universities – Washington, Washington State, Arizona and Arizona State – have new or upgraded buildings, as does Portland State University.
Dennis Munroe, the UO’s director of physical education and recreation, pointed out that the existing Rec Center was undersized even after its most recent upgrade 12 years ago.
“No one dreamed when we opened the door and spent a year in our expanded facility that we would get 3,000 people a day – then 3,500, and then 4,000,” Munroe said at the recent presentation. “Now we often get 6,000 in a day.”
In the week after spring break this year, the facility set a record with more than 31,000 visits over a seven-day period.
The new project will roughly double the Rec Center’s size with a variety of new or expanded features. A new aquatic center will include a 12-lane lap pool, a three- or four-lane leisure pool and a 16-person spa, and other amenities such as a “wet” classroom.
The overall project also includes expanded and upgraded locker rooms, new group exercise rooms, an additional three-court gymnasium, a “Healthy Oregon Suite” where small groups could hold meetings while working out on treadmills or stationary bikes, a lounge and social spaces.
A new, 2,000-square-foot weight and cardio equipment facility – the most-used areas of the current Rec Center – will be located at the rear of the new building to draw visitors in and expose them to other features.
“They put the milk at the back of the grocery store for a very good reason,” Patton said, drawing a comparison to the common merchandising ploy.
The newly-renovated Rec Center will include several “green” features, including expanded solar voltaic and solar water-heating arrays on its roof and the use of lumber milled from trees that have been felled around campus over the past several years. Leighton Pool – the existing indoor swim facility – will be capped with concrete and used to store rainwater; it will then be heated with excess energy from the laundry and other facilities, and will help to warm air for the building’s heating system.
While students approved a referendum on the Student Recreation Center project in recent elections by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, no timetable has been set. A similar referendum on an expansion of the Erb Memorial Union building failed by a margin of 480 votes.
Two years ago, the UO sought state approval to pay for a large portion of a $160.5 million, combined EMU/SRC project with bonds that would be repaid with student fees. Other financing for the combined project would have included about $50 million in private donations and money the university has set aside for the work.
That proposal was approved by the Oregon University System’s Finance and Advisory Committee. But after some students raised concerns over the financing plan, the project did not receive a go-ahead from the legislature and university officials began seeking clearer evidence of student support before moving forward.
“Students have now passed a referendum (on the SRC),” Munroe said at the recent gathering. “There is an open door now for us to continue to move this forward.”