Wellness Center on target for fall opening

Tue, 2012-07-24 10:26 -- univcomm
It's huge; it's dusty, and the Anderson University Wellness Center is on budget and on schedule. Joe Royer, AU director of facilities, and Ron Moore, AU's senior vice president, donned hard hats to give visitors a guided tour around the largest construction site in AU's 84-year history, a $17 million plus project made possible in large part by donations to the university. "I've been taking groups through this building about once a week or so," Royer said. "Next week, our housekeepers want to come through."

With dust flying as workers scurry through, around and on top of the building, the housekeepers might be overwhelmed by the size of the facility they will help maintain. The Wellness Center stands behind Rice Hall, a women's dormitory facing University Boulevard on the north side. The brick exterior of the new building matches the brick on existing AU buildings.

"We have a planning committee for our homecoming, which is the weekend of Oct. 11 and 12," Moore said. "We're planning some sort of dedication activities for this building, some formal, some informal events. A lot of the parents and alumni come back for the homecoming weekend."

By October 2002, the faculty and staff to be housed in the new 133,000-square-foot Wellness Center should be settled into the office space on the second floor at the east end of the building.

Royer and Moore took turns pointing out features on the first floor.

The northeast corner will belong to the athletic training and sports medicine programs.

"Did you know that we have an accredited sports medicine athletic program?" Moore asked. "We're one of the few colleges this size to have an accredited program -- in the nation."

"We'll have a Swim-x hydrotherapy pool, too," Royer added. "It's a pool that creates a strong current."

"That allows someone, say one of our athletes with a knee injury, to walk against the current in that pool," Moore said. "That's true state-of-the-art equipment."

"Very sophisticated," Royer said.

The first floor also will house a human performance lab. The faculty office space on the second floor at the east end will bring together 22 faculty and staff now working in offices scattered throughout five AU buildings.

AU planners visited wellness facilities at other universities during the planning stage -- committee work that began in 1988.

"The facilities we liked best were the ones with lots of natural light," Moore said.

The AU Wellness Center, even now during construction, is filled with natural light.

The pride of the building will be the gymnasium that takes up the west end of the huge facility. A running track just inside the walls on the ground level will allow track and field runners and sprinters to practice and compete.

Four regulation courts will take up the center with one boasting a hardwood floor and the remaining three with Mondo flooring striped for several sports such as basketball and volleyball.

But it is the netting system that gives the gymnasium such potential. An elaborate system overhead will allow nets to be dropped to separate the courts.

"You could have a basketball game going on one court, batting practice on another and volleyball on another," Royer said. "You won't have to worry about one event interrupting another."

And the gymnasium will give AU a facility that can seat 4,000 guests at tables should the need arise, Royer added, grinning when asked if the waiters would be fitted with roller skates.

"See that opening on the north side?" he asked. "That's a port where a truck can back up and deliver equipment."

Big fans blowing superheated air into the gymnasium area to dry the dirt might allow the cement floor to be poured by the end of the month.

Overlooking the courts on the second level just inside the walls will be a jogging and walking track for students and faculty to use for exercise.

"Our research and visits to other wellness facilities showed that about 80 percent of the student body goes through a building like this each day," Royer said. "That's the kind of use this building will get."

For at least the first academic year, 2002-2003, the AU Wellness Center will be used by students and faculty only while officials fine-tune programs as they learn what areas will be used most.

Eventually, Moore said, AU will explore joint programs with local hospitals to improve and expand the human performance lab and the sports medicine programs.

---Writer Cindy Carson is a staff reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.