Increased space will offer students more options

ORLANDO, FL — The Recreation and Wellness Center at the University of Central Florida is receiving a major facelift. Construction began in June 2009 on a $21.7 million expansion project that will increase the size of the current center by approximately 40,000 square feet.

James Wilkening, Director of UCF’s Recreation and Wellness Center will help oversee a project that will bring increased fitness space, which will allow for more free weights, cardio, and fitness machines.

“The new addition will basically double the amount of machines that are in the current space,” said Wilkening. “We currently have about 89 machines and will be looking to add about another 90. We’re still working some demo machines in the current space for student input.”

In addition, the expanded area will have a multipurpose room, a lap pool, an athletic training room, an outdoor adventure room, and four new racquetball courts.

“The multipurpose room will be predominantly for intramural sports and clubs. They might be utilized for a few workout classes but that will all come down to need,” said Wilkening. At the moment, there are no plans to add new classes. “The lap pool will be relocated but it will remain an outdoor lap pool,” he said.

Planning began in 2004 that would allow for an expansion to the original structure based completely on student need. The indication for more space came from student surveys conducted in summer 2004 and fall 2005.

Funding for the project came completely from the state’s CITF, or Capital Improvement Trust Fund. These funds accrue over time from student fees and are then allocated back to the university based on the need for auxiliary facilities that benefit students.

“The funds are allocated every 3 to 5 years by the state,” said Chad Morgan, Associate Director for Programs. “The state receives 100 percent of the funds from student CITF fees that are charged over tuition.”

The current fee for Florida college students is $2.44 per credit hour. Wilkening said the project was able to go forward because of the combination of two allocations. “We actually received one for $11.7 million and another for $10 million to get to that final number,” he said.

In order to allow for the expansion project, several other structures were either shifted or removed.

“We actually had to demolish building 15,” said Morgan. “Initially, that’s where all the offices for Intramural Sports were housed prior to the construction of the Rec Center. It was being used mostly for storage and we had space in there for two full-time staff members. The [second floor] was condemned because the stairs were not up to code.”

“The ROTC trailers were relocated just across from their previous location,” said Wilkening. “Because we had to clear the area, the sand volleyball courts will not be going back up.”

The project is expected to receive a LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the nation’s leading coalition for advancing buildings that are environmentally responsible. Two other UCF buildings recently received LEED certification. The Physical Sciences Building on the main campus became the university’s first LEED Gold building while the College of Medicine at UCF’s Health Sciences Campus in Lake Nona will be the only LEED Silver medical school in the state.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall of 2010 with a target date of November 30th. “Our plan is to use about two weeks in December to get everything moved in and have an extra two weeks built in to allow for any final touches or any issues we may have,” said Wilkening.

Construction is currently on time and administrators hope to have their Grand Opening in spring 2011.