Maryville College’s Alumni Gym will be receiving a much-needed renovation during the summer of 2018, with new fitness facilities and equipment finally making the building worthy of the term “Gymnasium.”
The official announcement and reveal of the ground-plans and sketch for the new-and-improved Alumni Gym came on April 18 within the Alumni Gym itself. The plans for the new renovations outlined a new fitness space partitioned off by a glass wall and a redesign of the main floor of the gymnasium to facilitate various intramural sports. The area that will become partitioned off by glass will be located in what is currently the men’s baseball team locker room, with plans for a new locker room for the team also provided.
The design for the renovation was provided by BarberMcMurry Architects, with Joseph Construction as the contractor, and Lawler-Wood functioning as the project manager and owner’s representative.
The last time the Alumni Gym was renovated was 12 years ago, when it was transformed into a performance space for students while the Clayton Center for the Arts was under construction, hence the stage that currently occupies one side of the gymnasium.
Maryville College President Tom Bogart officially unveiled the plans for the renovation,
After being introduced by Melanie Tucker, Vice President and Dean of Students, Bogart spoke about the benefits and opportunities the new gym would bring to the college and the student body. He stated that the cost of the renovations had been covered by an anonymous donation by an alumni who will become public at a later date. The current estimated cost of the renovations will be $35 million.
“We are planning as if we won’t have it until January, but are hoping to have it as early as November,” Bogart said of the renovated building in a follow-up interview.
The baseball team’s response has been largely positive.
“They’re being displaced, but we’re constructing a new space,” Bogart said. “I think they’re excited to move into that space. It will also change the home side of the baseball field from the first baseline to the third base side, which is where everyone wants to tailgate anyway.”
The movement of the locker room will also move the student section for baseball games, which will be a boon to both attendance and student morale. The overall student body has also responded well to the news.
“People are excited about having real fitness space,” Bogart said. “The area in Bartlett has been very limited in both size and quality, so this is a development that a number of people have been pushing for for quite a while.”
The Student Programming Board (SPB) and various other groups on campus hold events throughout the year in the Alumni Gym, but Bogart and the faculty have already prepared for this.
“For the Fall, they [the events] will be relocated, but, in the future, it’ll be a great event space,” he said. “In fact, since the back wall will be moved, there’ll be more space for events.”
Though fitness facilities are currently placed in Cooper Athletic Center and Bartlett Hall and are available to students, the Alumni Gym renovation plans to greatly expand what is currently offered.
“Two-thirds of our students are not varsity athletes,” Bogart said. “Every one of our students deserves access to adequate physical fitness. By providing a good space with more hours available and more extensive intramural activities, this should help people who otherwise didn’t want to go to Cooper or weren’t able to go to Bartlett.”
What will become of the current fitness center in Bartlett is unknown at the moment, but the room will be changed into something other than a fitness center with most of the equipment being moved into the new fitness center in the Alumni Gym.
“What’s in Bartlett is all relatively new, and it all works,” Bogart said. “Some of that will move over, and we’ll augment it with new equipment. This is part of an overall plan to upgrade and expand athletic and wellness facilities across the campus. We’re starting with this one since it affects the entire student body.”
The faculty response has been quite good as well.
“Everyone in the exercise science department seems to be excited,” Bogart said. “They led the way on the ‘Exercise is Medicine’ initiative on campus this year, and this new and upgraded space reinforces that message and creates opportunities for them. I think one of the challenges in upgrading and renovating athletic space is that we have to do it a little bit at a time because we have to continue to operate.”
However, some people have wondered why the Alumni Gym needs another renovation when it just received one 12 years ago.
“At the time, it was renovated to become a performing arts space while the Clayton Center was being constructed,” Bogart said. “So yes, that was work done to construct a performing space, but it was not necessarily a renovation to create an athletic space.”
During the unveiling, Bruce Guillaume, Director of Mountain Challenge, also spoke with pride of the recent development of Maryville College’s Fit. Green. Happy initiative becoming a registered trademark.
“First, this is a very public affirmation of a phrase that has really resonated in describing our approach here,” Bogart said of the initiative. “Second, it gave us some potential control about publicizing or otherwise taking advantage of that phrase. As Guillaume said, we are the only Fit. Green. Happy. college in the country, and it will stay that way unless we decide someone else meets that standard.”
With a new Alumni Gym on the way, this will provide an exciting change to the Maryville college landscape, both architecturally and in regards to fitness. It’s certainly fitting that, as the first Fit. Green. Happy. school in the world, Maryville College would have a fitness center that fosters the health of all of its students.