The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Design for Athletic Facility Revised

By Matthew Stone

Just months after releasing plans for the layout of Macalester’s new athletic facility, the college has returned to the drawing board and is completing a major revision to the original design.

Compared to the designs released in October, Facilities Management director Mark Dickinson said, the tentative revision is for a building of the same square footage—about 150,000—and the same price tag—about $30 million.

Changes include a significant reduction of corridor space, allowing for a more compact and more environmentally friendly design, said planners, who, among others, include Dickinson, Athletic Director Travis Feezell and outside consultants. The new facility is expected to be two levels, down from three in the preliminary designs, and will have a more clearly defined entrance point.

In addition, planners have shuffled the locations of some key facilities. The proposed location of the gymnasium is now next to the swimming facility, nearly opposite from its location in the original plans. Administrative offices will be located on the first level instead of the second, and the field house, with a track and four basketball courts, has been moved to the second level.

“We’ve made this a much more compact facility,” Dickinson said. “We’ve gained space for programming.”

Though the proposed facility contains the same square footage, the building’s aggregate footprint, the surface it occupies on campus, is smaller. The new design calls for the building to extend parallel to the north end of the Olin-Rice Science Center. The previous design had the building extended further and connected to Olin-Rice with a skyway.

With a smaller footprint, the new facility will leave open a larger surface area on campus than the previous design would have, Dickinson said. The open space could be devoted to additional parking on the south side of the building. Plans to alter Shaw Field by moving the softball field to the south side of campus have not changed.

The major revisions are, in part, the result of input from both Joel Schurke, a consultant with Minneapolis-based integrated planning firm Intep, which the college hired in September, and Feezell, who began working at Macalester in August.

Intep’s involvement is funded by a $50,000 Green Building Initiative grant the college received recently from the Kresge Foundation, which provides grants to non-profit organizations.

Schurke said he has largely acted as a guiding force for the building planners to help them meet objectives for environmental sustainability, especially in terms of limiting energy and space usage. He has also worked with the college’s contractor to determine how much of the current facility can be reused in the new facility’s construction and for other purposes.

“We’re setting the building performance parameters for the project and steering the project team to meet those parameters,” he said.

Ernie Gutierrez, a program director at the Kresge Foundation, oversaw what he called a “very competitive” grant application process. He said that Macalester impressed the reviewing committee with, among other aspects of its application, its intent to involve Intep in the planning process.

“It looked like a really good project to conserve resources,” Gutierrez said. “And the college has a good record of completing capital projects.”

Feezell’s involvement in the design planning has centered around the athletic department’s program needs, including varsity sports, intramural sports and physical education classes, he said.

“It’s a fundamentally better building from a program perspective [with] more visible activity and linkage between key spaces,” he said. “It allows us to look into the future and program those spaces in really meaningful ways.”

Eric Koecher of St. Louis-based Hastings & Chivetta Architects has been involved with the facility’s design from the beginning. He touted the building’s availability of unassigned space. According to Dickinson, the facility would have over 8,000 square feet of it.

“It gives the school some flexibility to use up that space at a later date,” Koecher said.

The planned athletic facility will occupy the space currently used for the Macalester Urban Land and Community Health (MULCH) Garden. Dickinson said that the college has not yet made any decisions on the garden’s future location.

The college is weighing whether to excavate beneath the athletic facility to create a 150-parking space garage, Dickinson said.

Construction will begin in December and will likely last 18 months until the fall of 2008, when all but the current first-year class will have graduated.

A December 2006 start date is one of many that the college has proposed over the course of planning.

Athletic teams that compete in the athletic facility will be displaced for one season during construction, Dickinson said. According to Feezell, the athletic department is seeking alternative practice and competition space at local high schools and St. Paul’s other colleges. For physical education classes, Feezell said that he will look for alternative spaces on campus.

Grace King ’09, a soccer player, agreed that it’s time to replace the current building.

“I think it has really poor facilities. Everything’s really old,” King said. “I look forward to when it’s new, but in between it’s going to be bad.”

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