Recreation and wellness center under construction to provide a variety of resources for students

Kaylea Gallagher, a member of Pitt’s dance team, said exercise was often part of her daily routine. She said the new wellness and recreation facility was going to be “a very good” addition to the campus.

“It will be at the heart of the campus. People who live on the upper campus tend to go to the Bairl and Petersen Events Center, and people who live on the lower campus tend to go to the William Pitt Union Gym, ”said Gallagher, sophomore at biology. “We’re both going to meet in the middle, and based on what they’re saying, I think that will allow everyone to get what they need in one place.”

The new campus recreation and wellness facility is currently under construction on the site of the old O’Hara garage and the Learning Research and Development Center building. This project is part of Pitt’s Campus master plan finalized in 2019, and will include a recreational pool, jogging track, weight lifting equipment, basketball courts, multi-purpose halls and more, according to Anastasia Dubnicay, a Facility management project manager who oversees the development and construction of the center. The building is expected to measure approximately 270,000 square feet and nine stories, according to Dubnicay.

The project entered its third phase of construction last August, which includes the demolition of the LRDC building. According to a Press release, the University plans to inaugurate the facility in the spring of 2022 and will open in the fall of 2024. The building was opening originally scheduled for fall 2022.

Screenshot via the University of Pittsburgh YouTube channel

Members of the Pitt community sit on comment panels to help plan the project. Dubnicay created an advisory committee in 2019 and said the comment panels included “groups of students, faculty and staff across schools, departments and disciplines.”

“Diversity and inclusiveness have been important in forming feedback advisory committees, ensuring a diverse representation of members of the Pitt community to capture the different needs, thoughts and ideas incorporated into the project,” Dubnicay said. “The capital projects team continues to meet with Student Affairs and the advisory committees as the design is being finalized with the architects. ”

One aspect of the design already confirmed is the reconstruction of University Drive to make the building more accessible and the hillside more pedestrian-friendly. According to Dubnicay, the Office of Planning, Design and Real Estate project team in partnership with the Office of Engagement and Community Affairs project team “to ensure that community members are aware of the reconfiguration of the route”.

“University Drive has been reconfigured to increase the safety of pedestrians crossing the hill from the lower campus to the upper campus,” Dubnicay said. “There are still to come, currently under design, various footpaths and cycle paths to maximize the usability of the hill. “

Screenshot via the University of Pittsburgh YouTube channel

The elements of sustainability are central to the building design, which should include abundant natural light and energy efficiency, sustainable stormwater management and biophilic design elements, according to Student Affairs website. Dubnicay said the design aims to support Pitt’s sustainability plan, which was released in 2018.

“A stormwater management system is proposed for the development of the hillside area, serving the new campus recreation and wellness center and additional buildings,” Dubnicay said. “The proposed system will allow the University to collect stormwater on site for reuse. “

According to Gallagher, athletic director Heather Lyke mentioned to him that a dance studio could be included in the new facility. While not confirmed as a convenience, Gallagher said this space could be a place for the dance team to practice.

“I hope they set up a dance studio there, but whether they do or not, I think it’s still beneficial and the dance team can always use it,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher said she was excited about the wellness aspect of the facility. According to the University, the wellness facilities on offer include spaces for meditation and yoga, and the building aims to provide “a holistic approach to support” alongside the physical.

She said it was “helpful” for the building to try to include more than aspects of a traditional gym environment, like cardio machines and weights.

“Especially while studying and with academics it’s important to be able to take care of yourself when you have free time, and I think that will bring a lot of benefits to students,” said Gallagher. “I’m glad the other things they mentioned were going to be incorporated like yoga and different courts where you can do different exercises like volleyball.”