Penn State’s workout space has come a long way since Paul Ruskin and his friends — students in the late 1960s and early 1970s — did push-ups in the muddy field next to East Halls, Ruskin said.
The upgrades continue today, when workers begin the first phase of renovations to the Intramural Building, said Ruskin, Office of Physical Plant communications coordinator. The construction will add exercise space and improve existing workout facilities Ruskin said. The majority of the building will be air-conditioned after renovations, he said.
The 48,000 square foot IM Building addition will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified, Ruskin said. That adds student-friendly features, like water bottle refilling stations. The new space will have more natural daylight and greater circulation of outside air, Ruskin said.
“Anytime we add energy efficiency to any building on campus, that makes the university a more energy-efficient institution,” Ruskin said. “That’s always the right thing to do.”
Tyler Pierce said he plays basketball or racquetball at the IM Building once in a while, but he usually works out somewhere else. Pierce said he would use the IM Building more often if it were nicer. The old building needs an upgrade, he said.
Pierce (senior-elementary education)said he welcomes the energy savings the new addition will bring.
“Energy efficiency always pays off in the end,” he said. “It’s expensive to put in, but the savings always add up.”
Hachiro Oishi, IM Building Facility and Event Coordinator, said the renovations will add a check-in desk in the lobby, where employees will verify users’ identities for security reasons.
But the renovations come with some sacrifice. Oishi said two racquetball courts will be eliminated to make better stairs. The construction may cause some inconvenience, but the building will hopefully be better finished, Oishi said. The work area will be fenced in, and employees will try to keep it as neat as possible, he said.
The building will remain open during the construction, but students and other users will need to enter in the back of the building, Ruskin said. The front entrance will close today and remain closed for most of the construction, Ruskin said.
Ruskin said later on, the construction will temporarily interfere with the sidewalk and bus stop. CATA may shift the stop then without interrupting service, he said. Workers will also be installing a new, covered bus shelter that will protect people from the weather, Ruskin said. Curtin Road, where the IM Building is located, will remain open.
The first phase of renovations should be complete in May 2014, and other phases remain in future planning, he said.
The Student Facility Fee will pay for the majority of the $26.1 million project, as previously reported. Intercollegiate Athletics and reserves for capital improvements will pay for the remainder of the cost, Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers said via email.