Rec Center planning and design process continues


The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t thrown off the planning and design process for the new campus recreation center planned on O’Hara Street.

Jill Krantz, executive director of the Department of Campus Recreation, said the project is now in the early design phase, which will continue through the summer.

To start making room for the new center, the O’Hara Garage was schedule to be demolished sometime in May, said Anastasia Dubnicay, project manager for planning and design, but that work is on hold as the University re-evaluates its capital budget. The project, which also includes demolition of the Learning Research and Development Center building, was approved earlier this year by the Board of Trustees Property Committee.

So far, Krantz said, the project team has gotten the basic size and overall shape of the center together and is moving on to refining specific features for the interior and exterior, including floor plans, plumbing and electricity.

This is the fun part of the process, Krantz said, noting that there are plans for an “outdoor pursuits space.” One of the highlights includes a flexible multi-purpose activity court, which can potentially allow for indoor soccer, inline hockey and more.

There also will be a space with a whirlpool and other aquatic activities, and they have fleshed out plans for a bouldering and climbing wall. Originally, those features were placeholders, Krantz said, but now, she’s excited for students to make use of the them.

The climbing wall, which will be a few floors high with safety equipment available, is completely new to campus. Trees Hall currently has a bouldering wall.

Further, plans for a competitive gaming space are being fleshed out, Krantz added.

In addition to health and physical activities, students can engage with the planned Wellness Suite, which will offer counseling services and spaces designed to promote mental wellness.

Krantz said the overall goal is for the center to “help promote the growth of the total student.”

“That's really about fostering health and well-being, practicing inclusivity,” Krantz said.

Krantz said that while the rec center is primarily focused on students, faculty and staff will have use of the facilities through a membership program. The details are still being worked out.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.