WORCESTER, Mass. – Nov. 2, 2009 – At its annual fall meeting on Oct. 30, the WPI Board of Trustees voted unanimously to proceed towards construction of a 140,000-square-foot Sports and Recreation Center, the next major project in the Institute's seven-year capital projects plan.
The facility, which will be constructed at the west end of the campus quadrangle, will overlook the quadrangle to the east and Alumni Field to the west. It will contain a natatorium, a fitness center, a four-court gymnasium, an indoor running track, rowing tanks, racquetball and handball courts, dance studios, and offices and meeting spaces for the coaches and staff of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics. Plans for the center also include a connecting corridor to Harrington Auditorium, creating greater capacity for WPI to host conferences, robotics competitions, career fairs, admissions open houses, and alumni events. Alumni Gym, which was built in 1916, will be converted to academic use; its current activities will be housed in the new facility.
Construction was originally scheduled to start this past spring, but was deferred when the economic downturn hit in October 2008. After reviewing the Institute’s continuing financial, academic, and enrollment strength, the Board of Trustees reactivated a schedule that now calls for construction to start immediately following the 2010 Commencement, with the facility to be completed by August 2012. The architect for the project is Cannon Design Inc., and the general contractor is Gilbane Construction Inc. Financing will be through a combination of fundraising, debt, and use of accumulated operating surpluses.
In 2007, WPI's Board of Trustees endorsed a policy calling for the design of all future buildings on campus to be environmentally friendly and meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification standards from the U.S. Green Building Council, which provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest performance standards. To date, WPI boasts two LEED-certified buildings. Earlier this year, East Hall, a residence hall for juniors and seniors that features the first green roof in Worcester, achieved LEED Gold certification. The Bartlett Center, the university's admissions and financial aid building, achieved LEED certification in 2006, becoming Worcester's first LEED-certified university building. Accordingly, the university will seek LEED Certification for the new recreation center.
"This is an important next step in developing our beautiful campus," said Board of Trustees Chairman Donald K. Peterson. "WPI has not added to its sports and recreation facilities since Harrington Auditorium opened in 1967. With the dramatic growth in enrollment since then, and the increasing importance of fitness and recreation in everyone’s lifestyle, this project is an essential development that will benefit the entire campus community. Now is an ideal time to proceed."
The Sports and Recreation Center will be the next in a number of major construction and renovations projects at WPI in recent years, including the Little Theatre (2006); the 128,000-square-foot WPI Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center at Gateway Park (2007); the 240-bed, apartment-style student residence, East Hall (2008); the George I. Alden (undergraduate) Life Sciences Center (2009) and ongoing renovations to faculty offices, classrooms, and lecture halls in Salisbury and Fuller Labs.