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RIT builds Field House and Activities Center

After years of dreaming and discussion, plans for a campus Field House and Activities Center are nearly finalized.

President Albert Simone predicts that once constructed, this will be the most-used building on campus.

RIT's Field House and Activities Center, to be built adjacent to the Hale-Andrews Student Life Center, will be a multi-purpose facility for recreation, athletics and other campus activities.

“I believe this campus is incomplete without a field house,” adds Simone. “I’ve felt that since the first day I came here.”

The $25-million facility, which will wrap around the north and west sides of the Hale-Andrews Student Life Center, is designed to serve many needs. The two-story, 155,000-square-foot building comprises three areas:

• The event venue/athletic field, which can be divided into three sections, will hold more than 8,000 people for special events such as convocation, guest speakers, and concerts, and also accommodate activities such as lacrosse, tennis, floor/field hockey, indoor track, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball. The plan includes a spacious lobby and mezzanine level with viewing to the field.

"The field house and activities center will be the crowning piece to an already impressive group of buildings."

- Frank Lamas, associate vice president for student affairs

• The aquatics center includes a competition pool, recreational pool, and spectator seating for about 150. The eight-lane, 25-meter competition pool features a moveable bulkhead to provide separation between the diving and swimming areas. The recreational pool includes a spa area with hot tub, water spouts and a current channel for relaxation and therapy.

• A fitness center of approximately 16,000 square feet with areas for free-weights training and cardiovascular equipment.

“The field house and activities center will be the crowning piece to an already impressive group of buildings,” says Frank Lamas, associate vice president for student affairs. “It will give us the flexibility of doing things we’ve never been able to do before. It increases our possibilities.”

Lamas, who began work on a proposal for a flexible, multi-purpose field house more than five years ago, says demand on existing facilities is so high that scheduling is a constant challenge and needs sometimes go unmet or activities take place in a space that is less than optimal.

The Clark Gymnasium, constructed in 1968, can seat about 2,000. However, using Clark for special events such as guest speakers, concerts or community events means the gym is out of use for athletic practices and competitions and intramural sports for days at a time. The Hale-Andrews Student Life Center, which opened in 1992, provides space for basketball, jogging, racquetball, and other fitness activities but was not designed for large gatherings or events.

Like Clark Gymnasium, the swimming pool was built when RIT moved to the current campus in the late 1960s, when about 4,000 students lived on campus. Today, RIT has more than 15,000 students and the number is growing. Some 7,000 participate in intramural sports. Since 1992, participation in intercollegiate sports has increased 46 percent. Participation in athletics exceeds any other extracurricular activity.

Lamas notes that student expectations and interests have changed markedly over the years. “When prospective students look at universities, of course their first consideration is the academics,” says Lamas. “But they also are interested in activities available and amenities on campus.”

“A facility that allows the campus community to come together to play and learn and celebrate is critical to RIT’s success,” Simone believes.

For more architectural renderings of the Field House go online: www.rit.edu/magazine/fall2002/fieldhouse.

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