Story by Ryan Tipper
Big changes are in store for the Pavilion building on Whatcom Community College’s campus in the near future. Come fall 2015, many more students will be able to lace up their running shoes and fill up their water bottles all in the name of exercise when Whatcom’s new Student Recreation Center officially opens.
While there are bike trails, gyms and sidewalks located near Whatcom’s campus, the new recreation center will give students an on-campus location for almost everything related to physical activity.
Kris Baier, the director of Student Life and athletics at Whatcom, said he is highly anticipating the new center’s construction and grand opening scheduled for fall 2015. “When I took over the position I’m in now, about five years ago, the rec center was just an idea,” Baier said.
That idea has now evolved into a significant remodel of Whatcom’s current Pavilion building which houses the college’s gymnasium and locker rooms.
“This wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for the student body saying how much they want a better facility,” said Baier. “It’s been really great to have the amount of students involved with the building’s process and conception [that] we do.”
Because Whatcom’s student body constantly changes, Baier said that keeping the building on schedule is like “the passing of a baton from the older students to the new students. That baton has yet to be dropped.”
The Pavilion expansion will feature an architectural design similar to most of the newer construction on campus such as the Nursing Services building. While the final square footage of the building continues to change as design decisions are made, there is no doubt the building will be big.
“When it’s completed, the building will be about two and a half stories,” Baier said. “That extra half a story will be a sunken-in weight room on the bottom level that will be around 4,000 square feet.”
The recreation center is planned to house everything from weight lifting equipment to cardio machines, as well as areas for students to relax, study and visit.
“Surrounding the sunken level, on the main floor, will be areas for lounging, meeting up with fellow students, as well as rooms and space for other athletics,” Baier said.
The second level of the facility is planned to offer a full-size running track, with open space in the center looking down on the levels below.
“Surrounding the running track will be a large loft for cardio,” said Baier. “I believe there will also be some larger rooms surrounding part of the track that can be used for classes such as yoga or tai chi.”
A major aspect of the Pavilion expansion is a redesign of the building’s exterior.
“One thing that is really exciting that is being overshadowed a little bit by the building is the landscaping that will be done,” Baier said.
“The whole outside of the building is going to be landscaped in different tiers,” Baier said. “This is going to give everyone a place to enjoy spring, summer and fall when the weather cooperates.”
The center’s exterior changes will give Whatcom students a new courtyard, a small park for entertainment outdoors and a fully covered area for bicycle parking.
“The covered bike area is going to be great for those who commute to school that way every day,” Baier said. “Attached to the rec center, you will be able to park your bike there to protect it from the elements as well as use available areas to change your clothes.”
“We went and sat in on an advisory meeting at Western for their recreation center there,” Baier said. “We want to make sure that we don’t simply recreate the wheel and make Whatcom’s [rec center] our own.”
The center will have many large windows which will allow for lots of natural lighting inside.
As dates align and plans are finalized, Whatcom’s new recreation center will begin its construction in the near future with its grand opening a little over two years away.
“There has to be a grand opening ceremony, oh heck yeah,” Baier said. “Fireworks, spotlights, you name it, I want it there.”
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