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Seattle University


Gettin' Pumped

Written by Mike Thee
February 17, 2011

This is a big week in the construction of SU’s new Fitness Center, as workers begin to set the structural steel in place. Over the next couple weeks, we’ll see the building’s skeleton take shape, culminating with a beam-signing and “topping off” celebration on Feb. 28. (More on that in a moment.)

By all accounts, construction of the 21,000-square-foot addition to the Connolly Center is going smoothly. “We’re on schedule and on budget,” says Tina Gilbert of Avatar Associates, who is helping manage the project with Steve De Bruhl of Facilities Services. On schedule means in time to open for the 2011-2012 academic year, and on budget refers to the $10.5 million allocated for the project. The facility is also being constructed sustainably, Gilbert adds. “We’re on target for LEED Gold status.”

Fundraising for the facility is moving forward, as well. “We’ve raised $4.3 million for the Fitness Center to date, and we're continuing to work with several donors to raise additional funds in the coming months,” says Mark Burnett, associate vice president for University Advancement.

Once the steel is erected, the building will be enclosed and skinned with glass and the metal. Of course it’s what’s on the inside that really counts, and Derek Hottell, director of Recreational Sports, is excited by all the new possibilities that the center will make possible for students, faculty and staff.

“The Fitness Center will fundamentally change the way Recreational Sports serves the campus community by allowing us to improve the quality and quantity of the programs and services we offer,” says Hottell. In addition to the fitness and cardio equipment and weights, Hottell points to the increased number of fitness spaces, which will allow more and different programs to be offered simultaneously. For instance, yoga, zumba, spinning and karate classes could all be held at the same time in the new center.

Not only that, the spaces are designed to best facilitate the specific fitness programs they host. “For karate, we will have a combative room,” says Hottell. “For yoga, we will have a mind/body studio. For zumba, we will have a large group exercise room.”

As a whole, the center will be an inviting and modern space. “It will be nice and bright with big windows on the west side,” says Gilbert. “The exercise equipment,” Hottell adds, “will be modern and feature displays on the cardio equipment, the audiovisual equipment throughout the facility will be state-of-the-art and we will offer paperless registration for our programs and services.”

From the Fitness Center, faculty, staff and students will also have easy access to the adjoining Connolly Center’s pools, gyms and racquetball courts.

“We’re extremely excited about the Fitness Center opening and the commitment it shows to the wellness of our community,” says Hottell. “One of the many benefits of working at Seattle University is the ability to utilize the recreation center at no charge and obtain memberships for faculty and staff partners and dependents at no charge. We hope the completed fitness center will encourage more people to take advantage of these opportunities.”

SIGN THE BEAM! The campus community is invited to watch the Fitness Center’s final beam be lifted into place at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28. Faculty, staff and students are also encouraged to add their signatures to the beam before it’s raised by visiting the Connolly Center’s south parking lot between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.