It won't be a concrete skeleton forever

By Ellie Craig

Walls are getting higher at the Macalester Athletics and Recreation Center and many decisions about how to decorate them are being finalized.Vice President of Student Affairs Laurie Hamre, Director of Health Services Denise Ward, and Athletics Director Travis Feezell have been working in conjunction with design firms Collaborative Designs Group and Office Machines on decorative themes and office furnishings.

Though students are not taking part in the final stages of the design process, students from across the board-athletes, student employees, Macalester College Student Government representatives, and club and intramural athletes-were asked for their input on the building’s interior.

“It was important to have the club and intramural athletes’ input, because this is really going to be their space, too,” Hamre said.

“It’s not just a building for jocks-everyone can find a home,” Ward said.

Last spring, these students made it clear to the design team and the Macalester staff that they were looking for a space where they would feel comfortable when promoting wellness, whether working out in the Pilates room or visiting Nurse Bob for a flu shot.

The design team has centered their plans on a philosophy of form and function, Feezell said.

“The main field house space needs to be functional for track meets, varsity practices, pick up basketball, but it’s also the largest gathering space on campus for prominent speakers, so we don’t want athletics all over the place,” Feezell said. (Bright orange will be kept to a minimum.)

The new space speaks to activity with airiness, natural light provided by high ceilings and skylights and contemporary colors. Artwork will also be a prominent feature within the center, covering a diverse range of student activities, not just athletics.

“In the field house, we wanted imaging that represents the core values of Macalester-service, academic excellence, diversity,” Feezell said. “In the atrium outside the field house, we wanted photos of the entire community that once again represented the core values, but we do have the Hall of Fame room outside of the Juice Bar that showcases athletics in a timeless way so someone in twenty years could come and say, ‘This is a really nice way to honor Mac alumni.'”

The design team also takes sustainability issues into account.

“From the minute we started bringing down the old building, we took a ‘reuse’ philosophy,” Hamre said.

Most of the building found its way to a horse farm, but the old gymnasium floor will return in the student lounge.

The building will also feature above-code roofing and installation, automatic flush toilets and recycled cooking oil elevator fuel. Skylights will provide natural light and also help heat the many “big box” spaces.

The design team looked at other eco-friendly design options for the MARC, but found that they have enough value in terms of total sustainability.

“Students need to know that this is being developed to be more than [an athletics center],” Ward said. “It is a gathering spot and one that celebrates the ideals of personal and community health and wellness.”

Some of the new features of the space include expanded locker rooms, with “high energy” colors for the Varsity rooms and a greater feeling of privacy for the public rooms. Another change to the athletic space is the addition of a sound system that will allow the college to host events such as convocation and commencement, making the space usable year-round.

Winton Health Services will have more space than it did in its previous location, including more exam space and a room for the outside providers the college works with, such as massage therapists. Before getting a massage or flu shot, students will be able to relax in the calming dark chocolate browns, blue-greens and camels of the new waiting rooms.

A lounge in front of the building’s large picture window will provide students with a view of Shaw Field, but also a gas fireplace and plenty of space to hang out and put their feet up. This space will also feature televisions for watching sports matches and video games.