After nearly 10 years of planning and just seven months shy of opening, the UVU Review took a sneak peak at the new building on campus.
On Tuesday, Aug. 27 Amy Grubbs, Director of UVU Campus Recreation, and Bob Rasmussen, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, led five newspaper staff members on a tour of the upcoming Student Life and Wellness Center.
The building, costing upwards of approximately $40 million, will hold everything from six bowling lanes, two floors of state of the art exercise equipment, and three full size basketball courts.
The exercise zones are designed to provide for the needs of students, both those who are well educated in how to work out and for those who have never stepped in a gym before.
“We want this to be a place students can come and learn how to live a healthier life,” Grubbs said. “We will have everything they could need.”
Grubbs and Rasmussen have made it their priority to be the voice of the student body in the planning of the facility.
“We really want to know what the students want so that it can be a place they will want to be,” Grubbs said.
Grubbs is still conducting polls and surveys to find out what is most important to UVU students.
“It’s important to us that this is a student centered building,” Grubbs said, “so we want to know what they want.”
Grubbs admits that there is one major feature that students want, but won’t see.
“A pool. Everyone wants a pool,” Grubbs said. “Even when we openly tell people we can’t have a pool they still tell us that’s what they want.”
With the hefty price tag the building is already sporting, a pool just wasn’t in the cards.
“Water is a sexy feature in a building like this one,” Rasmussen said. “I can see why people would want one. Fact is, we wanted water areas, a place people could do laps, play water volleyball or water basketball, but we just can’t do it with our budget.”
Students shouldn’t be put off by the lack of a pool; the building is likely to be more than they anticipate.
It’s a building easy to get lost in, with four stories built with an open floor plan, housing everything from rock walls to a meditation room to a cardio cinema. The views alone will be a major draw.
“Look at these views,” Rasmussen said. “You’ll even see a fat old guy like me up here walking this track just for the view.”
The track runs around the curved section at the top facing northeast, surrounded almost entirely by floor to ceiling windows.
The gym equipment and dance rooms that will be available would be enough to make local gyms jealous.
“Utah State University pitched something like this to the community a few years back and got a lot of backlash from local gym owners, and one could easily see why,” Rasmussen said. “But we focused on more than just fitness equipment in our pitch. We made sure that everyone understood that this was about the students getting more engaged on campus.”
Developers of the building recognize that there is more to wellness than just the physical. Mental and spiritual wellness was taken into account in the planning as well. One element that has long been important to President Matthew Holland is that there be a place on campus for those seeking quiet refuge and have no place else to go.
“The meditation room has always been an important feature for President Holland,” Rasmussen said. “We wanted a place on campus for those of all faiths to feel that they can go to meditate and pray if they wish.”
Though the meditation room is not meant to be a church or prayer room specifically, it is meant to be for those students who do not attend the LDS Institute, but would like a similar environment more suited to their lifestyle and beliefs.
Aside from the wellness portion of the building the first two floors will be dedicated to student life, meaning involvement on campus and places to relax with friends.
“There will be six bowling lanes, gaming stations, lounging stairs, a demonstration kitchen, everything,” Rasmussen said.
Clubs, UVUSA, the UVU Review and all other major student involvement centers of the school will be housed in the new building.
“We have conference centers, collaboration areas, open offices so that it’ll welcome productivity and team building,” Grubbs said. “But we are still working out exactly what to do with all the space. That’s partially what the surveys and focus groups have been about, getting this to be what the students need.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that filling the space is a big job; there is plenty of it to be had. The facility will cost well over $1 million a year to run, between utilities and student employees. This does mean a yearly increase of $20 to $25 in student fees over the next few years, and has already been factored into student fees over the last few years. However, that isn’t the only answer to the money question that those working on the development of the building have come up with.
“We’ll save a substantial amount of money by using our own facilities for our climbing and bowling classes,” Rasmussen said. “That will go toward keeping the price down for students. We are also going to sell memberships to what we call ‘connected community members,’ meaning alumni and what not. While all the services will be free to students, we’ll charge others who want to come here.”
The new building is scheduled to open in March of 2014.
To give your input on what should be in the new Student Life and Wellness building, you can fill out a survey by clicking here.
Nicole Shepard is an Integrated Studies major at UVU. She is emphasizing in Writing Studies, Journalism and Peace and Justice Studies, and will graduate spring 2014. Nicole is hoping to work in cause journalism and advocate for restorative justice practices. She has lived in Europe three times she is also considering graduate school in the UK. Nicole is the news editor for the UVU Review.