Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

As students returned to campus at the end of August, they noticed the abundance of construction going on around them. Probably the biggest construction area is next to Lawrence Dining Hall, the location of new Student Recreation Center. Although construction on the recreation building began in fall of 2010, planning for the center has been almost a 13-year process, with planning beginning in 1998.

   On Thursday, Sept. 15, student leaders and organization representatives were invited to attend a committee meeting for the recreation center. Students were given the history and information about the recreation center and what the recreation center would entail for students.

   “There was definitely an interest. A lot of schools around the country were building recreation centers,” Diane DeVestern, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs said. “It took awhile because these buildings have to be voted on by students, a referendum has to take place and that’s dictated from our PASSHE system.” The referendum was done in 2002. However, there had to be a feasibility study.

  Even before opening, the recreation center is already getting recognition. The building is a targeted Gold LEED (Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design).  

   The building has also won an award for Outstanding Design For a Work in Progress by the American School and University magazine.

   The building will include many innovative and fun features for students. The building will feature safe crosswalks to and from Lawrence Dining Hall, patio areas, social lounges, a hydration station, and many opportunities for exercise in state-of-the-art spaces.

    Another neat feature will be the “Wellness Wall” which will include inspiring words carved in precast stone such as “success,” “respect,” and “dedication.” Students took a survey last spring and chose three words in a list of a dozen words to be included on the “Wellness Wall.”

  The building will also house it’s most dominant feature, the climbing wall, where students will be able to rock climb on many different skill levels.  

   The center will have social lounges for students to relax and observe their surroundings and there will be multi purpose rooms for yoga, aerobics, and seminars.  There will also be a parking garage with 86 parking spots for anyone to park in. The fitness center will also have brand new state-of-the-art equipment.

The second floor of the center will feature two gyms, a spinning room, and a multi-purpose court for roller-skating, hockey.

   “The multi-purpose court is set up for every known sport,” Dee Giardina, Executive Direction of Facilities Design and Construction, said. The third floor will also feature a three-lane running track that wraps around the entire gym, and an outdoor veranda.

   One feature that the center will have that will make the building stand out is gender-neutral bathrooms.  

   “In the planning process, we have representatives from all groups on campus and clearly one of the needs, as put forth by the LGBTQA, was gender neutral and we absolutely agreed so it got incorporated,” DeVestern said. “Easy as that, not an issue.” “This is a student based building. It is for all students,” Giardina added.  

   The building will also be very accessible for students with disabilities. “It’s intentionally designed as an accessible building,” Giardina said.

    Sustainability also plays a huge part in the constructing of the center. “The center is connected to our centralized geo-thermal system,” Giardina said. “So it’s going to have a geothermal heating and ventilating and air conditioning system. Geo-thermal is wherewe use the ground to gain heat. So it’s an energy conservation. We’re using an unlimited source.”

   The center will feature sustainable vegetated green roofs made of plant material, green walls, solar panels on the roof which will help with the lighting, and rubber floors to name a few. The building will use recycled material and it  was designed to follow the path of the sun.  

   The recreation center is definitely student centered. “It’s not compromised. It’s exactly what the students wanted. We had focus groups that met and we continued to have additional focus groups even as the sites changed,” Giardina said. “We are pretty comfortable in saying that the students are getting exactly what they asked for.”

    Students had a say in the design of the building, including the Wellness Wall and the color palates.  

    The Center will be opened to all students who pay the fee for the building including undergraduate and graduate students. Alumni will have access to the center and will pay a small fee to use the center.

   “It is not an athletic facility. It is a student recreation center,” DeVestern said. Although athletes can choose to use the center on an individual basis, any sports teams for practice or for games will not use the center.

   DeVestern encourages students to take the virtual tour on the recreation center in order to get a full view of what the recreation center will be.  

   To see a virtual tour of the recreation center and to learn more about the center and its progress, go to:

Angela Thomas is a fifth year student majoring in English with a minor in web technology. She can be reached at

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