40,000 sq. ft. facility to address student health and fitness needs to improve academic outcomes
TAMPA — The University of Tampa will open its new two-story, 40,000-square-foot Fitness and Recreation Center with a brief ceremony and tours on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 10 a.m. An open house for the UT community will follow at 11:30 a.m.
The new Fitness and Recreation Center is centrally located on the UT campus north of the Ferman Music Center and south of Pepin Stadium.
The center is a one-stop shop for all exercise programs, personal training and evaluation, wellness and nutrition programs, intramurals, recreation activities, club sports and some exercise related laboratory and research activities. It features six group exercise rooms, which include one Spinning® room. Two small fitness assessment rooms have been incorporated in the floor plan, as well as a room for meetings and special events. Precor fitness machines (treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, etc.) as well as free weights, fill the new space. The facility will offer more than 60 group fitness classes per week, and will house the Office of Campus Recreation.
The center is for the exclusive use of UT students, faculty and staff.
Stephanie Russell Krebs, dean of students, said UT students have been eager for a new fitness center, and also sees the center as a way to build relationships, relieve stress, have fun and be healthy. “We know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to UT students, and we also know that a healthy lifestyle can have very positive impacts on student learning outcomes,” Krebs said. “We believe this center will be beneficial in so many ways, and will further enrich students’ UT experience.”
Architecturally, the building features high ceilings, open rooms and liberal use of glass to allow for sunlight and a connection to the outdoors. The open floor plan is intended to enhance visibility, foster social interaction and build community.
Located in the heart of campus, the facility also has a heart of its own. In the center of the building, and visible from all directions, is the 28-foot tall heart of the new center. The cylindrical form is 12 feet in diameter and weighs approximately 5,000 lbs. There are 176, 1-foot LED light strips that illuminate the heart which glows red thanks to 1,600 square feet of colored acrylic skin.
UT President Ronald Vaughn said the new center will have an immediate impact on campus. “We have worked hard to provide activities, spaces and programs for students to enhance their learning and living experience at UT, and building this facility is a part of that ongoing initiative,” Vaughn said. “This is a great day for future and current students, staff and faculty.”
Vaughn added that the facility will also help UT employees improve their fitness, health, lifestyles and quality of life.
Construction of the new center was supported by individual gifts and began in April 2015. The phase II future construction will expand the center by an additional 20,000 square feet for a total of 60,000 square feet. The Phase II expansion will include additional classrooms and labs to support Exercise Science and Human Performance program needs. When complete, the new facility will be about eight times larger than UT’s previous fitness center.
In alignment with UT’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the new building was designed and constructed to be a candidate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. If successful, it will be UT’s fifth LEED-certified building.
EWI Construction was the general contractor, and the lead architect on the project was Eric Kreher of Kreher Architects Inc.
The University of Tampa is a private, residential university located on 110 acres on the riverfront in downtown Tampa. Known for academic excellence, personal attention and real-world experience in its undergraduate and graduate programs, the University serves 8,300 students from 50 states and 140 countries. Approximately 65 percent of full-time students live on campus, and more than half of UT students are from Florida.