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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Rec Center cuts the ribbon

UA faculty, students and administrators gathered for the grand opening ceremony of the new Student Recreation Center expansion on Monday.

The ceremony, dubbed “”The Big Green Event”” in honor of the expansion’s sustainability efforts, was the final step in a project that was five years in the making.

“”Five years ago, we had a lot of complaints from students about the size of the Rec Center,”” said Juliette Moore, director of campus recreation. “”There were long lines for everything and long waits for machines, so students called together for an expansion.””

Taking into account the complaints of UA students, the Recreation Advisory Committee, a collection of students and faculty on campus, put together a proposal to expand and update the recreation center.

“”It’s amazing to think about the planning that went into this center,”” said Melissa Vito, the UA vice president for student affairs. “”When I look at this center, I see something that has not only raised the bar, but created a new standard for the 21st century recreation center.””

The expansion proposal was eventually accepted after UA students voted in 2006 to extend a $25 fee for three years. The fee money helped fund the new expansion.

“”This would not be a reality without the support of students,”” said Chris Nagata, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

UA Graduate and Professional Student Council President David Talenfeld expressed his hope that the new facility would mean more students would use the Rec Center.

“”I’ve heard it said that my generation will be the first to live shorter lives than the generation before us,”” Talenfeld said. “”But I want to assure you that we will not take that news sitting down but standing up and running and swimming and biking in this beautiful new center.””

The Rec Center had over 70,000 entrants from the soft opening on Jan. 11 to Jan. 31, a 42 percent increase from the same period last year.

The new expansion was built to be sustainable and energy efficient, a development that Moore says is as much a result of UA policies as it is students’ commitment to sustainability.

“”The students brought us their goals, and they made it clear they really wanted a sustainable building,”” Moore said. “”Thanks to that and the university’s desire to move towards sustainability allowed us to actually surpass our goals for the new building. We are now poised to be the first university recreation center to receive a platinum LEED designation.””

Leaders in Energy Efficiency and Design designations are awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and are meant to acknowledge buildings that were built with sustainability in mind. Factors such as energy efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions and water efficiency go into determining which level of certification a building receives.

“”We won’t know for about a year what level we will receive,”” Moore said. “”But we definitely have all the factors in place to receive the highest platinum certification.””

The expansion itself may be completed, but the makeover of the center is an ongoing process, with future projects, such as remodeling the front entrance.

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