From Bluffton University PR, with permission

Bluffton University took a major step toward new, enhanced facilities for both academics and athletics on Tuesday, July 12, breaking ground for its planned Health and Fitness Education Center.

(2-minute video)

“This is the next big development in Bluffton’s ongoing commitment to deliver a total educational program of the highest quality,” said President Dr. James M. Harder. “A Bluffton education includes excellent teaching and learning in the classroom and through a variety of co-curricular programs, including health and fitness for all students and competitive facilities for our NCAA student-athletes. This new building will meet the needs of Bluffton students for many years to come.”

The 60,000-square-foot complex, to be located north of Marbeck Center on campus, will house space for the academic department of health, fitness and sport science; a weight and fitness center for all students; a new arena for intercollegiate basketball and volleyball; a sports medicine center; athletics offices; and practice, intramural and multipurpose facilities.
Expected to open by late 2012, the building will also be the first on campus to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system. Among the key elements in that certification are commitments to an environmentally sustainable site, energy efficiency—such as use of natural light in at least 90 percent of the center’s regularly occupied spaces—and to recycling, including 75 percent or more of construction waste.

Funds for the $14 million project have been contributed by Bluffton alumni and friends as part of Extending Our Reach—The Campaign for Bluffton, through which the university has raised more than $30 million in cash and pledges to support academic programs, student scholarships, endowment and the building project.
“Bluffton deeply appreciates the commitment of many alumni and friends who chose to invest in the university’s future during a time of economic uncertainty,” said Dr. Hans Houshower, vice president for advancement. “Bluffton’s donors have truly extended their reach to make this day possible.”

A Health and Fitness Education Center was identified as the top priority for new facilities in the university’s current master plan. Designed by nationally renowned architects Sasaki Associates of Boston, Mass.—also the architects for Bluffton’s Centennial Hall academic building—the center will replace 60-year-old Founders Hall as the home of Beavers basketball and volleyball. Since Founders was built, the university’s enrollment has more than tripled, and with one-third of current traditional students participating in intercollegiate athletics and many more in intramural sports, campus capacity for performance, practice and intramural space has been stretched.

The new arena will seat more than 1,500 and also include two practice courts and a walking/jogging track. The weight and fitness center, meanwhile, will be a 5,000-square-foot space for all students—with separate areas for aerobic fitness and free weights—and the sports medicine center will feature an exam room and offices for physicians and trainers; rehabilitation space, including a hydrotherapy room; and dedicated areas for treatment and taping. Another multipurpose space, with an elevated view of the arena, will be used for classes, meetings and special events.

The general contractor is Thomas & Marker Construction of Bellefontaine, Ohio, whose many building projects at Bluffton have included Centennial Hall and, most recently, summer 2010 improvements to College Hall, Musselman Library and the Burcky Gym locker complex.


Bluffton public relations, 7/12/11