More than 22 years ago Julian Wright, director of recreational sports at the State University of New York at Cortland, wrote a memo to his bosses about the need for a facility to offer greater recreation and fitness programs for students.
So, few people were more excited than Wright when that seed of an idea became a reality earlier this month as SUNY Cortland opened a $56 million Student Life Center. With almost 150,000 square feet of space, the facility has dramatically expanded opportunities for students, faculty and staff to pursue fitness and recreation activities.
“It really is just what was envisioned,” says Wright. “It is going to be one of the best recruiting tools for the school. It improves the quality of life for students."
The Student Life Center is open from 6 a.m. to midnight, and Wright estimates as many as 3,000 people a day have been taking advantage of the expanded offerings.
“I've been stopped by probably a hundred or so students,” Wright says, "And they say, 'It's great,' or 'We love it.'"
The building, which was constructed on the former Davis Field, consolidates in one location an array of programs and activities that had been scattered throughout the campus in what were often shared or out-of-date facilities.
“The biggest thing is the consolidation of programs,” Wright says. “Now we have a one-stop shop.”
The amenities available in the Student Life Center include:
- A 9,000-square-foot circuit/free weight area
- 4,000-square-foot cardio area with equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, rowing machines and step machines
- A indoor cycle room with audio and video enhancements to simulate natural cycling conditions
- A six-lane, 4,000-square-foot swimming pool and a 350-square-foot whirlpool
- A 605-square-foot bouldering wall that runs 45 feet in length, and a 42-foot high climbing wall
- A 2,200-square-foot game room, as well as numerous casual spaces for informal gatherings
- Three wood-floored basketball courts that can be quickly converted into one 20,000-square-foot room
- A multi-activity court for intramural activities, such as indoor soccer or floor hockey
- Several rooms with specialty sports flooring to accommodate activities such as martial arts or group exercise
- A 343-seat residential dining facility
- An outdoor pursuits center where students can plan activities such as hiking, backpacking, kayaking, caving and white-water rafting
The center would have been completed earlier, but construction suffered a setback in November after a natural gas explosion injured three contractors and damaged sections of the facility.
Opening the Student Life Center frees up university space that had been occupied by two fitness areas. The Tomik fitness facility will be closed and converted to academic use, and the Woods fitness facility will be used for athletic and physical education programs.
The Student Life Center was designed by Hastings+Chivetta and H2L2 Architects/Planners.