MARC creates dust, headaches

By Annie Lewine

As students return to the red brick of Carnegie and Old Main and the lusciously green quads across campus, they are also greeted with the smell of tar and the sound of roofers issuing from the MARC construction site. The construction of the MARC, which will cost about $41 million and is scheduled to open on Aug. 1, 2008, has already affected many students upon their return to campus by making rooms in Kirk uncomfortable, the library a less quiet place to study and working out in the heat unbearable.

This semester’s preseason athletes, who mostly arrived in August, were some of the first to encounter the difficulties of the limited access to facilities.

“I think administratively, preseason always presents its own challenges,” Director of Athletics Travis Feezell said. “Especially without the locker rooms and training rooms we used to have, the teams are really on top of each other. We’ve even cannibalized a bathroom to make another training room.but I really haven’t heard any kind of griping about it, from coaches or students.”

First-year students seem especially keen to make the necessary sacrifices caused by the construction for the end result of a top-of-the-line facility.

“I didn’t really think about the new pool and other facilities at first,” swim team member Kate Vermann ’11 said. “But after doing a few samplers at a bunch of schools and seeing [Macalester’s] crusty decaying facilities, I thought a new pool would be a nice perk. I feel like it’s a great thing.to have the construction because it shows that the school is trying to improve and better accommodate its students.”

Some upperclassmen are not as accepting of the construction, especially since seniors will graduate before it is completed.

Erin Leisz ’08 expressed frustration at the situation.

“I’m upset that we don’t have a facility to use this year,” Leisz said. “I live off campus and I don’t have access to the Turck exercise room.all for a center that we won’t get to use.”

While students do have access to the limited exercise equipment at the Athletics

Department’s temporary headquarters at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, hours are often inconvenient and the rooms have been made uncomfortable because of heat and lack of ventilation.

In addition to limited facilities for students who live off campus, some students noted other negative aspects of the construction.

“Living off campus it’s now a huge inconvenience to get onto campus,” Courtney Rivers ’08 said. “It’s much more dangerous to cross Snelling – the crosswalks are less visible. I was really close to being hit by a car a few times last semester.”

Even though frustrated by the effects the construction has had on their last year at Macalester, some seniors acknowledge the value the center will have when it is completed.

“I’m really glad that our campus will be home to such a great facility,” Leisz said.

According to Facilities Management Director Mark Dickinson, the construction process has gone smoothly and impressed many.

“Everything’s going really well – the project is on time and within budget,” Dickinson said. “If anything, McGough [the construction company] is slightly ahead of schedule and we haven’t had to dip into the contingency budget at all.”

Older students also hope to see changes from the structure of the old Athletic Center to solve problems they saw with the old building.

“The old building was really intimidating for non-athletes,” Christine Pham ’08 said. “I don’t think the non-athletic people were ever given the knowledge of how to use the building. Hopefully the new building will be more accessible to non-athletes.”

The need for more accessible athletic facilities is one that has been echoed in the plans for the MARC, according to Feezell.

“This is a building for an entire community, it is not a jock palace,” Feezell said. “In the most general sense, the building has been designed for every user level possible.