The new, expanded Student Rec Center is ready for its closeup

Uptown, Downtown and all around the building, the newly expanded Student Recreation Center has a block for everyone.

With 110,000 square feet of new space and 40,000 square feet of renovated space, the now-state-of-the-art facility is much more than a place to sweat. And it’s big enough that spaces needed new names to help people navigate.

So visitors now will be directed to Uptown, Downtown, the Rock District, Waterworks, the Wheelhouse and Old Town to find the main lobby, fitness areas, rock and bouldering walls, two new pools, the cycling room and parts of the old building.

People will be able to take a turn through the new and improved spaces when the building holds its grand opening Monday, Jan. 5, starting at 4 p.m.

Interim UO President Scott Coltrane and Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes will speak at the grand opening, along with Kevin Marbury, director of physical recreation and education. Tours will be offered beginning at 4:45 p.m.

“This is an exciting time for us,” Marbury said. “It’s a scary time, but it’s exciting.”

The excitement extended beyond campus, with the improved facility and its grand opening coverned by The Register-Guard and The Daily Emerald as well as television station KEZI and radio station KLCC.

The renovated and expanded facility not only offers more of what it had but also new features that will make it easier for students, faculty and staff to find an activity that suits them as well as the space to do it in. At almost double the size of the old facility, the new Student Recreation Center is big enough to meet current needs with enough extra to accommodate some growth.

The old rec center was getting about 5,000 visitors a day but was built to handle about half that and to serve a university enrollment of 16,000 students. The new building will handle the current enrollment of more than 24,000 and then some.

People will notice a big difference as soon as they walk in the front doors, where they’ll find a spacious lobby open to everyone, whether they’re rec center members or not. It’s like the building’s living room, a space Marbury hopes will make the center a campus gathering spot.

“We wanted to create something vibrant, something that had energy,” Marbury said. “It’s someplace where people can come in and just enjoy the feeling the building creates.”

The lobby includes a Duck Store outlet with PE supplies as well as grab-and-go food, coffee and snacks. On the wall is a 32-screen video array.

Inside, members will find a new 12-lane, 25-yard pool with a diving area and a separate three-lane pool that can be used for water polo and water volleyball. There’s also a 16-person whirlpool spa with a waterfall.

Other new spaces include a cycling room with 38 machines, a mind/body yoga room with a floor mounted on rubber supports and an additional three-court gym (which will open later this month). The building has an expanded locker room with 1,500 lockers — 500 more than the old building — private showers and expanded weight and cardio fitness areas.

It also was designed with accessibility in mind. The pools feature wheelchair ramps, there’s a room for people to store special sport wheelchairs and the building has a lactation room for nursing mothers.

“We tried to think of every possible activity someone might be interested in and we tried to come up with some way of meeting that need,” Marbury said. “If we can supply as many different ways to work out as possible, we’re going to meet needs.”

Marbury is hoping the building will earn LEED platinum status. It has expanded solar panels, a radiant heat and active chilled beam cooling system and the old Leighton Pool has been covered and converted into a rainwater cistern. The 500,000-gallon tank will provide water for flushing toilets and some irrigation.

The $50 million expansion and renovation is financed with bonds that will be repaid from student fees.

By Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications