By Trevor Christian
This upcoming fall semester, Stony Brook students will have exclusive access to a $37.5 million, 85,000 square foot gym. During a media event, university officials described it as a high-tech facility that would help to alleviate the space problems currently experienced by sports clubs, intramural leagues and the Wellness Center.
A group, including Associate Dean and Director of Student Life Dr. Susan DiMonda, gave student media and students advisers who had helped with the project one of the first previews offered of the Campus Recreation Center. Though the building was originally supposed to be complete last year, construction was delayed because of issues with soil testing. It was not in working shape yet, but enough was there to see where machines and equipment might go.
Mallory Rothstein, a freshman psychology major and member of the Recreation Center’s advisory board, had already applied for one of the 75 jobs the building will create at time of the tour.
“I’ve seen the floor plans in writing and now to actually see it live and physically — it’s just wonderful,” she said. “I can’t wait to start working out here.”
As of the tour, the walls were mostly there, but not finished, and the bare concrete floors are littered with debris. Other than construction materials, all of the rooms were empty. The stairways were sealed off or incomplete to the point that the only way to get from floor to floor in some cases was by using emergency exits.
But the new building’s most impressive features, which include two enormous open areas that stretch two and three stories high and an elevated tenth-of-a-mile track, were already formed, even if they are still without floors or padding. The Recreation Center’s other big draw, the high-tech workout gear which was previewed last November, has been bid for, but not yet purchased.
The cardio area will house some of the Recreation Center’s coolest new toys, including virtual reality bikes, a workout logging station and screens that will allow students to play content of their choosing while they work out.
“You can program a playlist on your home computer. You come in, put your code in and you’re all set to go,” said Marie Turchiano, the associate director of the Department of Campus Recreation.
“Hopefully it’ll attract some different patrons to a healthier lifestyle,” added her colleague Dean Bowen.
Access to the Recreation Center will be limited to current Stony Brook students with a university ID. Fitness classes, equipment rental, cardio and weights will be available inside — no further payment or swipes of the ID card needed.
Fitness classes, says Bowen, will be easier to join because there will be three studios now instead of one.
“They’ll be a little more climate controlled than some of the studios we have now, especially the spin studio where it could rain any second,” said Bowen of the new air-conditioned facility. He repeatedly told everyone on the tour how excited they should be.
Sports clubs and intramural leagues, which have had to compete for field space, will also benefit from the Recreation Center, says Turchiano. After her department, sports clubs will have first access to available space to practice in, though resolving space conflicts was not the purpose of adding the large team sports field.
“Hopefully we’re just going to grow in numbers and get more clubs,” said Turchiano.
Sports clubs will also gain storage lockers for their equipment and possibly a place to host a tournament.
“We will also allow them to leave it here over the summer,” said DiMonda. “We don’t really want them taking it home because it’s really USG [Undergraduate Student Government] property.”
The Recreation Center also houses a few progressive features, like a gender neutral changing room, a weight lifting area for only small weights and offices for wellness screenings, such as cholesterol checks, that were otherwise being held out in the open.
With the opening of the Recreational Center, the fate of the Wellness Center on the third floor of the Student Activities Center is in question. DiMonda says that the equipment will be sold off and that she hopes the area will still be available for club events and practices. That may be the case in the short term, but blueprints have already been drawn to fill the room with tenants from the Student Union, which will be closed for renovations starting in 2014.