Eastern Michigan University’s Student Government hosted a forum Monday to discuss the future renovations to the Rec/IM at the Student Center.
Wes Howell, director of recreation and Michelle Owens, assistant director of recreation, gave a presentation on the benefits of the upcoming renovations to the Rec/IM.
“We wanted to incorporate some areas that we don’t currently offer,” Howell said.
A big part of this renovation is making sure that the building looks more modern and has an inviting feel that students want to be a part of.
Creating a welcoming space for students to congregate and feel comfortable exercising was one of the key factors in the new design. A big change was removing all but three racquetball courts to include more private spaces for students.
“We had found, especially in the evening … a crazy amount of requests for a room,” Owens said.
Whether it was for a club, or for students to practice their own individual sport, they didn’t have enough space to fulfill the requests.
The budget for the project is $16 million. It’ll include construction, furniture and equipment, and the costs to create the new design.
“I feel that the university knew this was something we needed,” Owens said. “But how do you fund a $16 million project?”
A $35 fee to students was presented to the Board of Regents by leaders of the previous student government administration, Miles Payne and Larry Borum, to help fund the project. Students voted in favor of the fee. They were allowed to opt out of the fee in exchange for not using the facility, something rarely found in university recreation.
Students can look forward to new open spaces and natural lighting in the building. There will also be more private exercise rooms and spaces for table games.
The lounge space will also include new areas for gaming and studying. One of the transitions the Rec/IM management would like to make is towards a more inviting space where students can come to study and relax as well as exercise.
The third-floor gym will now include working lockers and monitors. Howell and Owens are working on a plan to include a better system for overnight storage.
Air conditioning will also be included in the upper floors of the building. The university has included the cost in their municipal budget.
A number of surveys and focus groups were conducted to see what students want out of the new space.
“Once you get the tone of what individuals on campus want from their recreation facility, it can drive you in [the right] direction,” Howell said. “So you know that you’re working towards what the students want to see.”
One feature students had really wanted was a rock wall. Although the directors had tried to include one in the renovation plans, it was too expensive and wouldn’t physically fit due to the building layout.
Jones Natatorium won’t be renovated in this project but Howell hopes to see renovations in the future.
The Board of Regents released details of the plan at their December meeting, with renovations beginning in January. A full gallery of the renovations will be available on our website in the near future.