News & Advance details plans for new high-tech facility
7/17/2006 9:43:17 AM
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Students at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College have swum, stretched and practiced in the same small, non air-conditioned sports facility since 1961.
"It was a brand new facility when I attended college," said interim president Ginger Worden, who also graduated from the school in 1969.
The last time any work was done to the facility was about 10 years ago, when a weight room and team rooms were added, said Valerie Cushman, athletic director and chair of physical education.
"There’ve been some changes to it, but really pretty minor," said Worden.
"It really is time for a new facility."
School officials are planning to open a new state-of-the-art physical education and recreation/student activity center, which will also include building a separate new dance studio/theater.
The $30 million renovation and expansion project, groundwork slated to begin next spring, will be handicapped-accessible and have a wireless network.
Plans for the student center include televisions, pool tables, table tennis, sofas, a coffee bar and a fireplace.
The physical education facility will be much larger than the current one and will have all brand new exercise equipment, a bigger pool and a performance gym, in addition to the renovated gym.
"Our athletes have (become) more serious about sports over the years, I think that’s true not just at R-MWC, but elsewhere, and they deserve better equipment and I think that fitness is so central to having a good education," said Worden.
"It’s very central to the life of the college."
"We want something that will be cutting-edge five years from now," said Chris Burnley, vice president for finance and administration.
There are also plans to build a grassy area on top of one of the building’s rooftop, where students can meet and congregate before, between and after classes.
Sarah Rechnitzer, a rising senior and a member of the basketball team, is excited to have the facility renovated, although she admits she will miss the building she has used throughout her college career.
"It’s not falling apart … it’s just time for an update," said Rechnitzer.
"We’re a very traditional school … it’s going to be nice to have a modern building on campus."
School officials’ goal for the building is for it to become the central hub of the school, integrating academics, social life and exercise.
"We’re trying to focus on the students’ needs outside of the classroom, said Burnley.
"This building will be busy 24 (hours) seven (days a week)," said Cushman.
The entire building has yet to be named, but the fitness facility has already been named Bowman Fitness Center, after former president Kathleen Bowman.
The school has already raised $6 million for the project and is still seeking donations and partnerships.
Part of the money is a $50,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation. The Kresge Foundation encourages building environmentally sustainable facilities using professional consultation to develop green building plans, energy and materials analysis and ecological site planning for water management and landscaping.
"I think what I’m most excited about is the process with student involvement, faculty involvement, staff involvement and working with internationally renowned architects to come up with a plan that is organic to who we are as a college but also … really speaks of the community and to the community," said Worden
"I hope it will play a part in the life of the city."
CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of Communications