Student Recreation Center holds "topping out" ceremony

May 22, 2014 - 6:00am

The $50 million renovation and expansion of the Student Recreation Center hit a key milestone Wednesday with a “topping out” ceremony, signifying the last major structural components of the project are complete. 

Construction workers and university officials signed their names to the last steel beam that will be placed on the building, then enjoyed a barbecue lunch hosted by the general contractor, Howard S. Wright.

“It’s a milestone moment,” said project manager Eric Hutton.

The project, though challenging logistically, is on schedule, with completion set for early December so the renovated building can reopen in time for winter term, he said. About 70 workers are now on the project, a number expected to rise to 120 or 130 by summer, he said. Construction began last summer.

The Rec Center was completed in 2000 as an addition to Esslinger Hall. Designed to accommodate 2,500 people per day, it was serving up to 6,500 people per day before renovation began.  UO students voted in 2011 to authorize student fees which, along with revenues from the facility, will be used to pay back $50.25 million in bonds that are financing the project.

The renovation will create 110,000 square feet of new space, and 40,000 square feet of renovated space. Features include:

  • Expanded fitness space 
  • New group exercise and yoga studios
  • New cycling studio
  • An additional three-court gym
  • A 12-lane lap pool
  • A three-lane recreational pool
  • One whirlpool spa
  • New and expanded two-story locker rooms with private showers
  • New social and lounge spaces.

Builders have celebrated the topping out of construction projects for centuries. The practice can be traced to the ancient Scandinavian religious rite of placing a tree atop a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits displaced in its construction, according to Wikipedia.

- by Tim Christie, Public Affairs Communications