Athletic Center's interior unveiled

By Tressa Versteeg

After months of ongoing construction on the Macalester Athletic Recreation Center and speculation about the MARC’S interior design, The Mac Weekly staff toured the facility on Wednesday and viewed it all, from a sprawling field house to the spaces where whirlpools, intended for injured Macalester athletes, will soon reside. And it is as impressive as the building s grand exterior and hefty price of about $46 million suggests.

Sky-reaching ceilings, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a view that stretches all the way to Kagin Commons constitute a few of the MARC’s attributes. The MARC will open for public use Aug. 1 and Macalester will have an official grand opening ceremony Sept. 6.

Of the $46 million needed for the project, $22 million has been raised. The fundraising goal is $26 million. The rest of the money will be debt, which Hamre said is typical for these types of projects.

Hamre said that the original design McGough presented was longer and skinnier than the present MARC. A team of Macalester administrators, however, revised the blueprints to make the building more energy efficient. Now Mokak is showing the MARC to prospective clients as a model of a compact, energy-efficiency design.

Hamre said that while details of the MARC’s hours of operation have yet to be finalized, she offered 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. as a possible range for weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. on

weekends.

The main campus entrance will be at Shaw field. Once inside the MARC, the gymnasium is directly to the left. It will be used for basketball, volleyball and intramurals, as well as convocation, concerts, dances and speakers. Laurie Hamre, vice president of student affairs, said that with chairs on the floor, the gymnasium holds 2,200. Two pullout bleachers and one permanent bleacher form a U around the gym.

Hamre, who has been a key player in designing the building’s interior, noted that the blue rafters in the gymnasium form natural “M” shapes. In order to “blow some life into these big boxes,” Hamre said, one “M” will be painted orange.

On Wednesday afternoon, the pool was almost completely filled with concrete; Hamre said that the pool will eventually hold 10 lanes and will also offer bleachers for fans to watch swimming and water polo meets.

To the right of the Shaw entrance is the sprawling fitness center, which will contain numerous weights and fitness machines in its 9,000 square feet. This space will be encapsulated by a glass wall and will contain numerous TVs.

“Turck workout is nice but I expect that the fitness center will be busy from the minute it opens until the minute it closes,” Hamre said.

The fitness room stands in the center of the MARC’s main floor, which also includes a fireplace and lounge area, coach offices, student workspaces, club sports storage, locker rooms, vending machines (which will accept Mac IDs for payment), a juice bar and two activity rooms. The activity rooms feature hardwood floors, each with a separate finish to accommodate the barefoot and shoed demographics.

The juice bar will serve various drinks and possibly offer a selection of lunches, much like the atrium in the upper level of Campus Center. The adjacent lounge area will be equipped with two TVs as well as video games.

The other workspaces will be able to be used for new curriculum, such as dietary and health classes, that will be offered next fall. Health services are also located on the main level, with counselor offices, exam rooms and a training room, complete with two whirlpools and an ice machine.

Stairs complete with “M”s protruding from the railing lead to the upper level, which is the home of the field house. It contains two racquetball and squash courts, four other courts, a putting green and a 200-meter indoor track. This area will also be used for large speaking events and could serve as the rain site for commencement.

Many of the donors who contributed large amounts to the MARC fund will hold naming rights over various MARC sites, including offices, the track, the atrium and the juice bar.

“It’s a way for fundraising at Mac to get organized and to provide opportunity (for people to donate) but also a way to recognize people who do give so much to Mac,” said Hamre.

Hamre said the project has gone smoothly overall and attributes the progress to the construction firm McGough, which brings in at least 100 construction workers a day.

“I think it is totally related to the abilities of our construction crew.” Hamre said. “They are taking so much care and they are very good at what they do,” Hamre said.

Even with the construction progress, there is still “a lot to be done,” Hamre said. The parking lot, which will hold more than 100 cars, needs to be poured and Shaw Field needs to be landscaped.