You see it looming over the center of campus every day: The beautiful, shiny new recreation center. Nestled in the midst of ongoing construction that began in May of last year, students and staff can see progress being made on the building every day. The sleek, modern windows and design of the building emphasize just how innovative the new rec center will be. And even if it won’t be open to the public until the next fall semester, members of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Student Services Committee were given an exclusive tour of the construction, including myself.
Cydni Costanzo, the executive director of UConn Recreation, and Silvia Chan, senior associate director of facilities, extended the invitation to 12 of the committee’s members during last week’s meeting. Not only did they showcase the new features of the rec center, but they discussed their plans moving forward for more student input. They wish to implement a new student advisory board with the opening of the new center.
Going into the building on a brisk Wednesday afternoon, Costanzo shared that the building’s exterior was 90 percent completed. Inside, you can already see how beautiful the building will be with floor-to-ceiling windows. She shared a video of the vision of the building, which was surprisingly very helpful to visualize the unfinished interior, which has the structural elements completed.
Costanzo explained how the building was designed so you could see any point of the building from where you’re standing. Whether on a walkway built on the fourth floor, or down on the pool deck, I could see all of the other areas of the center, which lent to the openness and grandness of the building.
The first floor will have a large reception area, complete with comfy chairs, tables and outlets if you want to meet up with some friends and study, or watch a UConn athletics game on the large TV that is also present in the entrance area. There will be a Freshens smoothie bar built into the lobby, so you can get your smoothie fix without having to go the Union.
After the swipe-in area, there’s one of multiple work-out areas, complete with fitness machines and equipment. The entrance to the climbing area is also on the first floor, and we were able to see how encompassing the new climbing center will be. The wall will cover all four floors, and will be programmed to light up at night, for special occasions.
The first floor also houses the new aquatic center, which will have two separate pools. One eight-lane competitive swimming pools and lap pools, that will be able to host competitions, as well as an adjacent leisure pool that can host other activities.
A large staircase leads to the second floor, which contains many studios for classes. One particular studio has a glass balcony, which Costanzo said she envisions will be used for sunrise yoga! The surplus of rooms will be able to facilitate more programs and classes than the current rec center can.
The third-floor hosts all of the courts of the new center, with four multi-use courts total, as well as additional racquetball courts, as well as a court that can host indoor soccer games. A three-lane track overlooks the courts and the spectacular view seen from the track is enough to entice me to run a lap or two next year.
The improvements and exciting features that will be available next year were overwhelming to see in progress and in person. I didn’t think an incomplete building that still had nails and planks all over the place would be something I could envision properly, but Costanzo’s excitement and promotion of the building were enough to convince me how amazing the new facility will be. I was excited about everything — from the pool, to the track, to the locker rooms. Our current rec center could fit into a quarter of the first floor. The new center will be leaps and bounds away from the resources of the current center. Future Huskies will have no idea what it was like before the new rec center.
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.