New Grand Valley Unit Adds Recreation Space

May 8, 2008
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ALLENDALE — Grand Valley State University students will have more room for general recreation activities this fall when the new Laker Turf Building opens on the university's Allendale campus. 

Even though GVSU has an arena and a field house with a recreation center, climbing center and pool, the general student population was getting squeezed out of recreational space as GVSU's athletic, intramural, recreational sports and movement science academic programs expanded, said Brad Wallace, GVSU's athletic and recreation facilities manager. The movement science department operates programs in physical education, health education, exercise science, athletic training and sport leadership.

When the recreation center first opened, it was designed to give GVSU's general student population a place to work out, run and play basketball, Wallace explained. Over the years, with the growth of the university and its programming, the teams, clubs and classes needed more space, so the recreation center gradually became out of bounds for general student use. 

The new, two-story, 138,000-square-foot Laker Turf Building will sport a six-lane, 300-meter indoor track with nine sprint lanes; an indoor pole vault, shot put and high jump; a 100-yard indoor sport turf field; an athletic training room; long jump and triple jump lanes; locker and shower rooms; bleacher seating for 800 spectators; multipurpose rooms for student activities; and a concession area.

"The facility hasn't even opened, and we've got it booked from sun-up to sundown, literally," he said. "There will be some times set aside for drop-ins and open-recreation use but a lot of time is going to be scheduled space for classes, sports clubs, intramurals and athletics."

The old recreation center will continue to house weight-lifting and cardio equipment, basketball courts, an indoor track, the south gym, a spinning studio and the Campus Wellness Center. Since there won't be any exercise equipment or court space in the Turf Building, students will most likely continue using the recreation center, Wallace noted. Use of the recreation center is free to GVSU students and faculty, and that will extend to use of the new facility, Wallace said. Paid memberships are available to the general public.

"The biggest feature is the actual size of the building. It gets your attention right away," Wallace said. "The field turf is a full 100-yard football field. Our six-lane, 300-meter track really stands out, too. The facility has 65-foot-tall ceilings, so there's plenty of height to punt footballs and throw baseballs and softballs.  Those are the things that are going to catch your eye."

In keeping with the "healthy" theme, the Laker Turf Building will also be LEED certified. Bob Brown, GVSU's assistant director of facilities planning, said the university plans to seek, at minimum, basic LEED certification, but it's going to try to eek out enough points to get LEED Silver certification.

According to Brown, some of the LEED features will include a photovoltaic system to produce some of the building's energy, a ground source heat pump system to help with cooling and heating and rain gardens to help with stormwater management. The latter is coupled with a retention pond that will collect stormwater and use it to irrigate nearby athletic fields, he said. Brown noted that the field turf in the building is made of recycled rubber. Anywhere possible, he said, the contractors are trying to use products that have recycled content.

"We'll also have a solar wall on the south face of the building that essentially creates a cavity that draws in outside air and heats it and then we put that into our internal HVAC system to help with heating some of the spaces of the building."

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