Donor Stories & News
WPI’s new Sports and Recreation Center will be a place for students, faculty, and staff to come together for competition, camaraderie, and celebration. It will be the newest center for excellence on the WPI campus.
The Sports and Recreation Center is scheduled to open in Fall 2012. Until that time, four web cameras will capture all of the construction activities taking place at the site. Check back often to witness the progress.
View the webcam via WPI’s website.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) President Dennis Berkey and members of the WPI Board of Trustees, along with the Moonraker 2.0 robot, broke ground today for a 145,000-square-foot sports and recreation center. Moonraker 2.0, the student-designed robot that won a $500,000 prize from NASA for its ability to excavate moon dust last year, used its remarkable digging capabilities to kick-off construction of the new center, which will be built into the hillside at the west end of the WPI Quadrangle and is designed to meet LEED certification standards. The facility is scheduled to open in August 2012.
Watch a video of Moonraker 2.0 getting the groundbreaking under way.
“The Sports and Recreation Center is an exciting and much needed addition to the WPI campus,” Berkey said. The new center will provide substantially more space for our growing population of students, faculty, and staff, and their avid interests in sports and recreation. We are not just building another gym. We are building a place for our community to come together – for competition, for camaraderie, for celebration. We are building a new setting for excellence.”
Recent years have seen an increase in participation in sports at WPI and successful team performances, including winning the Worcester College Cup for top-performing athletic program among its local peers in four of the past six years, and enjoying a 20-percent increase overall in the percentage of wins. Beyond varsity sports, there is also a diversity of student interest in sports and recreation offerings and campus-wide participation in physical fitness.
The new building will overlook the quadrangle to the east and Alumni Field to the west, presenting an attractive two-story facade to the main campus and a dramatic five-story facade to the playing fields below. Featuring state-of-the-art equipment incorporated into a bright, spacious and thoughtfully laid-out space, the new center will be available for use by WPI students, faculty, and staff. It will feature 14,000-square-feet of fitness space, a four-court gymnasium, a competition-length swimming pool, a three-lane elevated jogging track, racquetball and squash courts, rowing tanks, and workout studios.
The center will provide attractive space for large-scale events, such as admissions open houses, career fairs, national academic conferences and alumni events. In addition, the facility will have space dedicated to WPI’s robotics program, and will enable WPI to support regional and national robotics competitions.
Development of the new center is part of the Institute’s seven-year capital plan. Boston-based CannonDesign serves as the architect, and Gilbane Building Co. as the general contractor. Worcester-based Cardinal Construction is the owner’s representative. The facility’s total cost is expected to be approximately $53.2 million.
In 2007, WPI’s Board of Trustees endorsed a policy calling for the design of all future buildings on campus to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards from the U.S. Green Building Council. The center is expected to be the third LEED-certified building on campus. The new facility will utilize 50 solar thermal panels on the roof to heat the pool water, saving more than $50,000 in operating costs and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 4,400 pounds per year, as compared with conventional pool heating. In addition, underground storage tanks will collect 50,000 gallons of rainwater from the roof for the cooling system, reducing the building’s water consumption by more than 800,000 gallons per year. Some of the fitness equipment within the building will generate electricity to reduce the building’s electrical load. The facility will also feature FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) wood for paneling and furniture to protect endangered forests by using wood species that are easily replenished. More than 75 percent of the construction waste will be recycled and diverted from landfills.
Learn more about the WPI Sports and Recreation Center and see architectural renderings and floor plans.
Watch NECN’s coverage of the groundbreaking ceremony.
Read the (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette’s article about the event.
About Moonraker 2.0
Moonraker 2.0, created by Paul’s Robotics, which is led by robotics engineering major Paul Ventimiglia, won the $500,000 NASA Regolith Excavation Challenge in October 2009, beating out 22 other teams of professional engineers and college, university, and high school students. The NASA challenge required robots to excavate at least 150 kilograms of simulated lunar soil within a 30-minute period, demonstrating a task that will be important for future lunar construction and processing projects. WPI is the only university in the nation to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in robotics engineering.
The George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation is supporting the university’s new Sports and Recreation Center with a gift of $1 million, which will make possible a striking glass-enclosed, light-filled main entrance for the building (see artist’s rendering, at right) to be known as the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Atrium. Construction of the 140,000-square-foot Sports and Recreation Center began just after WPI’s May 15 Commencement and will conclude in August 2012.
“The new Sports and Recreation Center will be an inspiring place for the WPI community to come together for camaraderie, competition, and celebration; and is essential to our ability to provide a world class learning and living environment for our campus community,” said WPI President Dennis Berkey. “We are grateful to the Fuller Foundation for helping to make possible this vital new addition to our campus.”
The facility, to be built into the hillside at the west end of the WPI Quadrangle, will house a four-court, 29,000-square-foot gymnasium circled by an elevated three-lane jogging track; a 25-meter pool for swimming and diving with seating for 250 spectators; a 14,000-square-foot fitness center with separate areas for physical education classes; three convertible squash and racquetball courts; an eight-person rowing tank; rooms for dance, yoga, and other recreational activities; multipurpose meeting rooms; well-equipped locker rooms; a training and rehabilitation suite with two hydrotherapy tanks; and offices for coaches, staff members, and students.
In addition to supporting the growing recreational and wellness interests of students and the needs of WPI’s competitive varsity and club sports programs, the building will provide attractive space for large-scale events, including admissions open houses, career fairs, and national academic conferences. It will also have space dedicated to WPI’s robotics program, including a spacious pit area for regional and national robotics competitions.
“The Fuller family is proud to continue its support for WPI by contributing to the Sports and Recreation Center,” said Mark Fuller, chairman of the Fuller Foundation. “We have long admired WPI and recognize the value it brings to its students, to the Worcester community, and to society. This new center of excellence will enrich the campus community and serve as a powerful symbol of the spirit of innovation that marks every aspect of WPI’s approach to education.”
The spacious, multilevel Fuller Atrium will provide views of the Quadrangle and the campus to the east and the playing fields and Bancroft Hill to the west through large expanses of glass. Interior windows will look in on the gymnasium. It will be the first view visitors will have of the new center’s interior, and is expected to be a featured stop on campus tours. The atrium will also be a popular spot for social events and a popular gathering place for the community.
“The spectacular Fuller Atrium will be a lasting reminder of the bond between the Fuller family and WPI,” said Dexter Bailey, vice president for development and alumni relations. “This gift continues a legacy of enlightened philanthropy established by George F. and Sybil Fuller, who were deeply committed to WPI and its mission. George Fuller served for decades as a trustee, beginning in 1920, and the foundation he established has supported the university generously for so many years, starting with a gift in 1964 to establish and endow the George F. Fuller Professorship in Mechanical Engineering.”
Bailey noted that Fuller Foundation’s gifts have already transformed the WPI campus. Previous major gifts have supported the Fuller Residence Center, the Fuller Water Quality Laboratory, the George F. Fuller Laboratories, home to WPI’s Computer Science Department and central computer resources, and the Fuller Chemistry Complex, a modern laboratory facility for general chemistry instruction. The foundation also supports annual scholarships to WPI for Worcester-area students.
In November and December 2009, WPI asked alumni to take a survey on the new Sports and Recreation Center. This January 2010 report includes the results compiled from 1,987 WPI alumni participants.
Recognizing the importance of the new Sports and Recreation Center to educating the whole student at WPI, Stu Kazin ’61 and his wife, Ellen, recently supported the project with a generous gift.
Stu Kazin is retired senior vice president of World Wide Operations and Administration for Lotus Development Corp. /IBM in Cambridge, Mass. Kazin was responsible for Lotus’s worldwide manufacturing, distribution and customer operations as well as for worldwide information systems and operations, applications development, end-user computing, and telecommunications. He also oversaw all corporate services worldwide. IBM purchased Lotus in 1995, and Kazin became responsible for all the software manufacturing and delivery for both the physical and electronic software business for IBM. He retired in April 1999 after 14 years with Lotus Development Corporation/IBM.
The new Sports and Recreation Center, which will now include the Ellen and Stu Kazin ’61 Conference Room, is about about strengthening the WPI community, Kazin says. This is a long-standing interest for Kazin, who has played an active role in the life of his alma mater. He served as chair of the Annual Fund Board from 2006 to 2009, and was also an Alumni Council Class Representative. He helped plan his 40th anniversary class reunion in 2001, has been a class agent for many years, and is a member of the PolyClub. Kazin is currently a member of WPI’s Campaign Cabinet, helping to guide and raise funds for the university’s $200 million capital campaign, and is a newly elected member of the WPI Board of Trustees.
Kazin notes that traditionally, WPI students and alumni identify with their academic department, athletic teams, and fraternities, but have not necessarily identified with the university as a whole. He points to the Campus Center, which opened in 2001, as an effective tool in fostering school identity, pride, and community by providing a valuable common meeting ground for students, faculty, and staff.
“The Sports and Recreation Center represents another place where students can get together. It’s another facility that fosters community,” Kazin says.
Kazin, who played varsity soccer during his freshman year at WPI and then became the varsity basketball team manager after being sidelined on the soccer field by a knee injury, also recognizes the importance of sports and fitness to the residential university experience.
“What convinced me to support this project is how important athletics and fitness has become to students today,” he says. “In my time, fitness meant getting out of bed.”
At WPI, nearly 60 percent of students are active in sports. In addition, overwhelming numbers of WPI students recognize personal fitness as a major contributor to quality of life and are accustomed to including exercise in their regular routines.
Kazin adds that sports and recreation facilities are key factors prospective students consider when deciding where to apply to and attend college. The new center, he notes, also represents an opportunity to continue WPI’s recent success in recruiting women students. Harrington Auditorium, the last athletics facility built at WPI, was completed in 1968—the first year undergraduate women were admitted to the university. No athletic facility at WPI has been designed with the needs of women in mind.
“I’d like to see WPI attract more women students, especially as we move toward more biological education,” Kazin says. But the motivation behind the Kazins’ gift to the new Sports and Recreation Center is the facility’s promise of enriching the WPI educational experience for all students.
“As I look at this project, I think it is very important for student life at WPI, and I wanted to make sure it’s supported,” Kazin says.
The Fred H. Daniels Foundation has given $300,000 to WPI’s new Sports and Recreation Center, supporting the university’s plans to expand opportunities for student achievement and enhance its competitive position in the marketplace.
The Daniels Foundation’s support will help provide the WPI community with a premium sports and exercise center, as well as a hub for community activities that will strengthen a vibrant campus. The completion of the new Sports and Recreation Center also will transform campus both aesthetically and in its ability to provide students and faculty with the highest quality facilities for teaching, research, and project work. It opens up exciting opportunities for turning Alumni Gym into an Innovation Center, solving the demand for campus parking, and creating a true campus quadrangle free from cars and open to pedestrian enjoyment. WPI seeks to raise $30 million toward the $53 million cost of the center.
“The Daniels Foundation’s leadership gift represents an important step forward for this important facility,” says President Dennis D. Berkey. “The Sports and Recreation Center promises to be a stunning and vital addition to WPI’s beautiful campus and a facility that WPI community will enjoy for years to come. I am confident that it will be a point of pride for the Daniels Foundation.”
Rowing tank honors memory of dedicated WPI alumnus
When Barbara Donahue first learned about the proposed sports and recreation center at WPI, she knew exactly what she wanted to support. Thanks to Donahue’s generous gift, the WPI crew will train in a state-of-the-art rowing tank housed in the new center.
The new sports and recreation center answers a compelling need on campus for premium fitness space for students, faculty, and staff. The new center will anchor the west side of the Quadrangle, literally and figuratively occupying a place at the heart of campus life. The building will provide 29,000 square feet of space devoted to a four-court gymnasium, workout rooms, wellness classrooms, meeting spaces, a fitness center, and a natatorium housing a modern 25-meter swimming pool and spectator seating. The existing baseball and softball fields will give way to a new artificial turf field constructed atop a 500-space parking garage. Parking areas will be eliminated from the Quad and replaced by open green space. A sweeping renovation of Harrington Auditorium will update courts for varsity basketball and other recreational uses, as well as add and improve locker rooms for men and women. The project also presents an opportunity to renovate Alumni Gym—a historic and beloved campus structure—into academic space to support WPI’s signature project-based curriculum.