The students at the University of Utah will soon be able to enjoy a new student life and recreational center on campus, as the university broke ground on a new complex on April 19. The new facility, which will be called the George S. Eccles Student Life Center, will provide students on the campus with a place to exercise, enjoy recreational sports, lounge and study with their friends. Once completed, the building will be 190,000 square feet and cost $50.4 million.
While construction on the new, state-of-the-art facility began this week, the plans for the building have been 10 years in the making. Throughout the past decade, university officials and administrators have worked to design the plans as well as raise money for the project. Funding for the facility came from many different sources, according to a University of Utah press release. A large majority of the funds came from gifts donated from alumni and community organizations. The naming gift came from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, but there were also significant donations made by the University Federal Credit Union and Kem and Carolyn Gardner. In addition to these gifts, students approved a bond on campus to help support the continued operation of the facility. Administrators at the university and non-student users will have to pay entrance fees to use the life center and its amenities, which will also provide financial support for building maintenance and operations.
University officials and project donors hope that the new student life center will become a gathering place on the campus, a central location that will help bring the campus to life. University President David W. Pershing said in the release that the new center will help to promote the idea that the college experience is about more than just getting an education in a classroom. Pershing says that the University of Utah works to develop all students into well-rounded individuals, and this student life center will help them continue to achieve that goal.
The George S. Eccles Student Life Center is located in the central portion of the campus, by the George S. Eccles 2002 Legacy Bridge and the Fort Douglas TRAX stop. Recreational amenities include fitness rooms, workout equipment, space for intramural sports, three swimming pools and outdoor recreational space. Other features of the student life center will be a cafe, a study lounge, a wellness studio and climbing walls.
The student life center will provide a bridge between the academic world at the University of Utah and the residential portion of the college. The hope is that the facility will promote engagement and community participation among students, faculty, staff and residents in the area. By adding this type of facility, the university is also emphasizing the importance of health, wellness, fitness and community engagement as part of a well-balanced lifestyle. It will be a place where students can go to live better, healthier and more fulfilling lives while they are in college. According to university officials, the George S. Eccles Student Life Center will be operating by December 2014.