Built originally in 1994 to accommodate 11,000 students, UCR’s primary fitness center will expand for a rapidly growing campus population.
Cardio kickboxing is one of many leisure classes offered at the UCR Student Recreation Center (SRC). As an invigorating alternative to a regular workout routine, the fitness classes are popular with students and thus, oftentimes overcrowded, leading many to do their exercising outside the corridors of the multi-purpose rooms. The Recreation Facilities Governing Board, a student-run committee that oversee campus recreation, sought to address such issues by working on an expansion to the SRC to fit UCR’s expanding student body.
A $37.2 million construction project is currently underway, which will grow the SRC by about two-thirds its current size. The new facility will ease the burden of increasing student enrollment and limited availability of fitness equipment and rec classes, especially during peak hours from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Construction began during winter break of Dec. 2012, but the initial planning stages date back to 2008.
“The SRC was busy and crowded and we did not think it was meeting students needs, so we started getting feedback from students in 2008 and 2009 through several surveys where we learned how students felt about the current rec center and what they would like to see in the future,” stated Jenni Deveau, psychology graduate and member of the governing board.
Largely viewed as a student-centric initiative, the construction project was spearheaded by the governing board, which consists of six undergraduates and three alumni. In an effort to provide greater student accessibility to the SRC, the board first explored the possibility of an expansion through surveys and focus groups.
Approved during the spring 2010 elections, the student referendum fee increase of $149 per quarter was dedicated to funding the expansion. The additional charge will raise the SRC student fee from $59 to $208, once the two-part construction is completed in the winter quarter of 2015.
According to the final survey results by Brailsford & Dunlavey—the program management firm hired by UCR—prior to the elections, approximately 65 percent of students were very likely or likely to support raising student fees to fund the expansion. The firm, specializing in strategic operations and provides financial consultation, provided an assessment of the SRC student surveys.
“From these results, we set up a referendum that focused on having a expansion with a larger weight room, more multipurpose rooms (MPR), as well as a swimming pool among many other items,” stated fourth-year biology and statistics major Gerry Young, who is also the secretary of the board. “Then based upon the budget that was allocated for the project along with the overall design of the building, the number and size of these rooms and fitness areas were determined.”
Most notably, construction will not disrupt the regular hours of operations for the SRC, which will remain open for the duration of the expansion.
“I think it’s much needed. We have a large student body and if you compare the student body to the rec room size, then it is obviously disproportionate,” stated SRC employee and second-year business and law major Troy Hall.
As SRC Director of 13 years, Lindy Fenex commented on the major issues facing avid gym-goers, which led to a greater push for the expansion. “The current SRC [of 18 years] was designed for a student population of 11,000 and is unable to fulfill or satisfy the student demand for recreation programs, services or facilities,” he said. From 2011-2012, the enrollment rate at UCR surpassed the 21,000 mark, which is up 4,000 from just four years ago.
The first stage of the two-part construction project involves the addition of nearly 75,000 gross square feet and is scheduled for completion by June 2014. The second stage of the expansion will involve a major renovation to the existing SRC in order to free up additional office space and multi-purpose rooms. The latter of the two stages is expected to be finished by winter quarter of 2015.
New facilities include an outdoor Olympic-sized pool, 20,000 square feet of weight room and cardio fitness space, along with an indoor jogging track that surrounds a rock climbing wall.
“I love to do cardio as well as play basketball, so the expansion of the cardio area is going to be great because it allows for a variety of different machines as well as less waiting time for a treadmill or elliptical machine,” stated Young, in regards to the inclusion of a multi-athletic court (MAC).
The MAC includes a full-sized basketball court, which may also be used for recreational events such as indoor soccer or volleyball. The opening of a new aquatics facilities will contain a lap pool, recreation pool and a vortex pool. Basketball and volleyball courts will be built on the southeast portion of the SRC while construction takes place on the outdoor area adjacent to Lot 25.
“I’m just excited that it’s going to be bigger, to be honest. It’s packed. I don’t like waiting for machines…it’s like really unmotivating,” stated fourth-year ethnic studies major Frances De Ruyter. “I commute so it’s like I’m not going to wait an hour to use a machine and I have to drive all the way back to my house which is like another half an hour.”
Selected in fall 2012, the designated construction company C.W. Driver will accompany the architect, Cannon Design, to complete the LEED Silver Certified building and support environmentally-sound practices.
“There has been student representation and input on all aspects of the design and construction of the new building, with several student members on all decision-making committees,” said Jenni Deveau, a psychology graduate and member of the board. “This is one area where students have a voice on [what] happens on the campus, and I think they have made their voice heard.”
The public can view the day-to-day construction through a live feed that is is available on the SRC main website, recreation.ucr.edu.