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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bear Down Gym may see overhaul

    Campus Recreation officials are discussing a thorough renovation of Bear Down Gym.

    While renovation would alter several aspects of the building, 1428 E. University Blvd., its gymnasium and weight room are safe from any demolition, said Juliette Moore, director of Campus Recreation.

    Because they are so cherished by the student body and host several activities, including many intramural sports events, the gymnasium and weight room are too valuable to be disposed of, Moore said.

    “”It is critical that we preserve the history of the gym,”” she said. “”Our goal is to make it historical, but upgraded.””

    Whenever the renovation does take place, it will be done out of necessity rather than vanity, Moore said. When Campus Rec hired architects to examine the building in 2003, they found several deficiencies within the structure, prompting Campus Rec officials to consider future changes to the facility.

    The renovation would add as much as 42,000 square feet of space and change the building from a purely athletic center to a multi-purpose informational resource area, Moore said, including a health and wellness area and a center for physical activity and nutrition.

    Although Moore expressed hope for the

    renovation, she stressed that plans are only in the early stages of discussion. Before definitive decisions are made, several steps need to be taken, including the surveying of students, faculty and staff to receive proper feedback.

    Forthcoming expansion of the Student Recreation Center must also first be completed, she said. That revolution is slated to be finished in May 2009.

    “”We definitely want the students to approve of this,”” she said. “”We really want to get others involved.””

    Greg Goodrum, a regional development sophomore, said Bear Down Gym’s standing as a revered part of UA history should be reason enough to spare the gym from destruction or severe alteration.

    The facility is one of the UA’s oldest buildings, having opened in 1927.

    “”I’m glad to hear that the gym and the (weight) room aren’t going anywhere,”” Goodrum said. “”It would be a shame for the university to get rid of such an important, traditional part of our campus.””

    Because the existing structure can encompass only an additional 13,000 square feet, the remaining 29,000 square feet would come in the form of several new structures just south of Bear Down, according to a proposal by the Breckenridge architecture group.

    The estimated cost of the project is just over $13 million, a cost Campus Rec has not yet decided how to fund, Moore said.

    The construction would also address several government-required structural codes concerning fire alarm systems and lighting components.

    As long as the weight room is not shut down, the renovation would be a valuable addition to the UA community, said Carlos Vasquez, an architecture junior.

    “”It sounds like something that will really benefit everyone when it’s all said and done,”” he said. “”It’s good to see that while we’re moving forward, we’re still appreciating the past.””

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