Following three months of construction and renovation over the summer, the Portland State Rec Center is now opening its newly expanded facilities to students. The expansion project was budgeted at $1.4 million and was paid for by a combination of student fees and membership fees from non-students.
According to Todd Bauch, associate director of Campus Rec, the new space will provide ample room for activities like Olympic lifting, kettle bells and functional fitness.
“We also did a lot of work to reduce our impact on the city archives above us,” Bauch said. “We moved an entire room, and we soundproofed the ceiling, as well as tried to cut down on the vibrations they were feeling from our group exercise classes.”
People who’ve used the space in the past will likely welcome the changes, but the expanded rec facility has not been open long enough to see any potential negative backlash over the budget.
“We don’t know yet because people haven’t seen the space or haven’t used the space yet,” Bauch said. “We’ll be open to that feedback when it arrives in the next four weeks of people using the space.”
Michael Farr, a post-bac student at PSU studying Russian and also working at Campus Rec as a social media specialist, thought that the project’s budget was money well spent.
“You pay for this with your student fees, so most people use it at one time or another. Plenty of students use it almost every day,” Farr said.
Though the expansion didn’t add a lot of raw square footage, Farr thought the space felt much more open, particularly due to the addition to a central stairway connecting both floors of the space.
Farr is happy at his job at the Rec Center, due in part to the positive energy he feels with his coworkers—an energy that he says he tries to bring to the Rec Center’s membership as well.
“To be able to bring this new space to them is really exciting, and this has been a work in progress for so long, but it feels really good to finally see it now and get to use it… I want to do a cardio workout upstairs and just look at Mount Hood while I’m going on a run,” Farr said.
Alex Accetta, director of the Campus Rec at PSU, feels he has closed the loop at the Rec Center by adding space for activities that require large amounts of physical movement and other forms of fitness which were previously not possible.
“Consistently, for multiple years, you know, we get requests like, ‘We need Olympic platforms.’ And I’m like, we don’t have space for Olympic platforms… We knew all these things. We just couldn’t get to it,” Accetta said. “Now we can.”
Though little new equipment was added to the Rec Center with the expansion, he was excited for features like the new stairway and large windows intended to give students a view of the outdoors while they exercise.
Complaints about mandatory fees being used to fund projects like the expansion are uncommon, according to Accetta.
“Even though we’re not in the classroom, we still think we’re part of a giant classroom, right?” Accetta said. “Because we’re human. If all we did was go to class and then go home, we’d never experience life, right? And so, what we do is provide life for a lot of the students… Over half of the student body comes into the Rec Center, which is probably more than almost any other building on campus.”
Accetta added that spaces like the Rec Center are similar to roads and other infrastructure, considering that widely used common spaces are dependent on everyone contributing for the greater good.
“We’re always full of gratitude, frankly,” Accetta said. “For our careers, for our lives, for our ability to work in this type of environment. So my thing is thank you, to students, for sure. It’s great what you’ve done for us, so thanks.”