The recently approved $37.5 million, 128,000-square-foot University of Louisville Student Recreation Center is moving forward with the commission of Cannon Design to design the facility.

Scheduled to open in the fall 2013 semester, the facility will offer exercise and weight equipment; a gymnasium with six courts for basketball, volleyball and other sports; a multi-activity court for indoor soccer, floor hockey and other sports; aerobics and wellness studios; a jogging track; racquetball courts; a fitness lab; classrooms and meeting rooms; locker rooms; food service; a lobby area and a gaming area.

The facility also will include a lighted, outdoor artificial turf field that will be used primarily for student recreation, sports club practices and physical education classes.

The center will be the first university building to be heated and cooled with geothermal energy and is expected to earn gold certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The new facility will help resolve the shortage of recreational space on the campus, Michael Mardis, dean of students, said in a university news release. With overcrowding at the university’s main recreation facility, which opened in 1990, and an increase in student enrollment, the expansion was needed to provide for the higher number of students.

“Thousands of students are participating in intramural sports,” Mardis said. “The sports club program has grown from eight to 22 active clubs, and enrollment in our group fitness classes has grown by more than 100 percent over the past three years. The SRC will further enhance their student experience as it will provide students with more space for these activities and events.”

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The university first proposed building the facility as part of its master plan in 2009 while the Student Government Association featured it as a top priority in a 2010 strategic plan. With student support for the initiative reaching almost 89 percent, the development of the new facility was purely a student initiative.

“The students felt that compared to other institutions, our recreation center was not what it should be,” Dale Ramsay, director of intramural and recreational sports, tells Club Industry. “This was a collaborative effort that we came up with, and we’ve given the students unprecedented involvement from the selection of the architect to input to what is going into the center.”

Kurtis Frizzell, student government association president, added in a university news release: “The Student Government Association has made sure that the student body was involved and represented in every step taken towards getting this recreational center. In every decision made, the student’s voice was right there alongside.”

The university is seeking private donations to help fund the building as well as applying a $98 per semester recreation fee to all new students (including graduate, professional and readmitted students) and a per credit hour fee for part-time students.

“The model we used for the fee was applied to all new students who began this year and students who were enrolled in new programs, but it does not apply to returning students,” Ramsay says. “This was the students’ idea to build the new rec center, but with financial challenges, we felt this was the best way to get the project approved, and the students agreed.”

In addition to being available for the student body, membership opportunities will be available for faculty, staff, alumni and their dependents.

“We are using recreational fitness to improve the quality of students’ lives, and with our new facility, we can better fulfill that goal,” Ramsay says. “This facility is going to increase the vibrancy of our campus life, and not only attract students but improve the quality of life of our students.”