$35 Million Expansion Announced by Calvin College

Calvin College is planning a major expansion of its physical education and athletic facilities, the biggest building project in school history.

The expansion, which has been a topic of discussion at Calvin for close to a decade, was approved this past weekend by the college's 31-member Board of Trustees. Calvin hopes to break ground on these projects in spring 2007 (assuming the necessary zoning approvals are granted) and anticipates beginning to use the facilities in fall 2008.

Calvin architect Frank Gorman is designing all of the portions of the project with an eye to sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental quality. Gorman is working with two architectural firms: Holland-based GMB and Iowa-based RDG, both of which specialize in athletic complexes.

Calvin professor Glenn VanAndel is the former chair of the HPERDS department (health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport) at Calvin and co-chaired the committee that planned the $35 million expansion project.

He says the new buildings and renovations will come not a moment too soon for the department, which has grown to almost 200 students who are HPERDS majors and minors (in such areas as exercise science, sports management, therapeutic recreation, dance and more).

In addition the department runs a very popular intramurals program which last year saw 2,644 participants and an extensive athletic program which last year was home to 461 athletes who competed in 17 varsity sports, five junior varsity sports and three club sports.

In addition, Henry DeVries, Calvin vice president for administration and finance, says Calvin students, faculty and staff are hungry for more health and recreation options.

To meet the needs of the entire Calvin community the upcoming expansion
features a five-pronged plan, including:

  1. a new arena
  2. a new indoor track and tennis center
  3. a new aquatics center, featuring a 50-meter by 25-yard pool
  4. a new student health center
  5. a significant renovation of the current Calvin Fieldhouse, resulting
    in a new health and recreation center

Much of the money has been raised already to fund the entire complex, but Calvin officials declined to name donors at this date, noting that som of the donors are not yet ready for their names to be made public. Calvin plans to release the names of the major donors to the project later in the year.

The centerpiece of the newly approved project will be a new arena, tentatively set for a seating capacity of 5,000. It will measure some 175,000 square feet and will replace the Calvin Fieldhouse, which was built in 1965, as the homecourt for the school's Division III men's and women's basketball teams and women's volleyball team. That arena will be located almost directly east of the current fieldhouse on what is currently a small, multi-use athletic field (the location was chosen to minimize intrusion into a diverse woodlot that sits north and east of the current Calvin Fieldhouse).

The old Calvin Fieldhouse, meanwhile, will be converted into a multi- purpose facility. All of the upper bleachers will be removed, creating an open space with a multitude of playing courts. New offices and several new classrooms will be added to the facility and a currently cramped human performance laboratory, a critical part of the college's exercise science program, will be greatly expanded. The fieldhouse also will feature new space for dance activities (Calvin offers a dance minor), including the 300 students who last year were part of Dance Guild.

In addition the current on-campus health center at Calvin for students, which now is housed in the basement of a residence hall, will be significantly expanded and find a new home in the renovated fieldhouse. It will increase from an approximately 2,000-square-foot facility currently to an approximately 6,000-square-foot center complete with numerous exam rooms, lab offices, a diet counsel room and various health center employee offices.

The indoor tennis center alone will measure 62,000 square feet and will include four competition tennis courts and a 200-meter indoor running track. The facility will be crafted as a multi-purpose center with the space able to be used for recreational running, competition track and field, baseball, softball, lacrosse and soccer as well as basketball and volleyball.

The new aquatics center will also be a multi-use facility. It will feature a pool that will be 50 meters long and 25 yards wide. That size will give Calvin significant flexibility, as a moveable bulkhead in the water will be used to create areas that can be used for a wide variety of simultaneous activities, everything from college, high school and age-group swim meets, including diving, to water polo matches, water aerobics classes, swim lessons and more.

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