The George S Eccles Student LIfe Center opened Jan 12 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City Image courtesy of the University of Utah University of Utah

The George S. Eccles Student LIfe Center opened Jan. 12 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Image courtesy of the University of Utah.

University of Utah Unveils $50 Million Recreation Center

The University of Utah's 180,000-square-foot rec center is the result of more than 10 years of planning and raising funds.

The University of Utah has opened a 180,000-square-foot student life and recreation facility on its Salt Lake City campus.

The George S. Eccles Student Life Center is the culmination of more than 10 years of planning, fund-raising efforts and advocacy by student government leaders to enhance recreation and fitness opportunities for students and staff at the school, the university says.

The $50 million center offers numerous health and fitness programs and amenities: a 15,000-square-foot fitness center; a six-lane, 50-meter pool; indoor and outdoor leisure pools; an indoor hot tub and spa, a 320-yard indoor running track, a four-story climbing and boulder wall, gymnasiums with five sport courts; racquetball courts; four group-fitness studios for spinning, yoga, Pilates and aerobics classes; and a combative room.

“The reaction of students has been very positive,” says Julian Gomez, marketing manager for the student life center. “We've had a lot of traffic coming through in the first few days.”

So far, the most popular feature in the new center is The Summit, which includes a 13-foot bouldering wall and a 54-foot rock climbing wall.

“That is something we did not have before in any of our other facilities.” says Gomez. “The climbing wall is four stories tall.”

Before the center was completed, the university's fitness and recreation offerings were scattered throughout the campus, Gomez says. Some programs were in the Einar Nielsen Field House, an outdated facility that was one of the older buildings on campus while others were available in the HPER (Health, Physical Education and Recreation) building. Outdoor programs were housed in a third area.

“We have more facilities than we did before, and now everything is under one roof,” Gomez says.

The design of the Eccles Student Life Center incorporated energy-saving materials and strategies, and the university is seeking LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The center was designed by MHTN Architects and Hastings+Chivetta and is named for Utah philanthropist George S. Eccles. A $3 million grant from The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation enabled construction of the facility to begin in 2013.

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