Opening DayGAMBIER, Ohio (January 23, 2006) It's here. It's now. And it's spectacular.
The Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) opens later this week. The College's spacious new home for fitness and sport, providing top-flight facilities beneath soaring glass walls and arching steel trusses, will open its doors to the campus community on Wednesday, January 25.
The full array of venues in the building will be ready for use, from the competition-quality indoor track, to a gym area devoted exclusively to recreation, to the weight and fitness room, which offers scores of exercise machines as well as a panoramic view of the new pool. Sweeping views, indeed, are the rule in the 263,000-square-foot building, whose design creates excitement through openness, sleek lines, and abundant natural light.
"It's not just a new building," says Douglas Zipp, director of the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC). "It's a new era for the College. This is going to be a fantastic resource. We want everyone to come down and use it. Just step through the doors into that magnificent lobby and explore, and you'll realize how this facility is going to transform our community."
A new brochure, available at the KAC information desk, summarizes the features of the building and guidelines for using it. Information may also be found at http://athletics.kenyon.edu/kac.xml. The Web site includes detailed information about reserving the KAC conference and multipurpose rooms, theater, and tennis, squash, and racquetball courts.
Kenyon is currently introducing new ID cards for students, faculty, and staff, and the new cards will be needed to gain entry into non-public spaces in KAC.
"This is a building, first and foremost, for students," says Zipp, "and they of course may use it free of charge." Others who can use KAC at no cost include College employees and their spouses/partners and dependents, retired College employees and their spouses/partners, employees of Kenyon's food service, and members of the College Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Certain other groups, including Gambier residents and village employees, may use KAC by purchasing annual memberships. Qualified users also receive a number of free guest passes and may purchase additional passes. (For complete guidelines on use of the building, see "KAC: the basics.")
With the spring semester under way, the new athletic center will host a full range of recreational, athletic, and academic activities: Kenyon Fit sessions and dance classes in the multipurpose rooms, intramurals in the multi-activity court (the recreational gym), team practices in the track infield area, and lectures and film screenings in the 120-seat theater--not to mention informal workouts, lap-swimming, and games on the racquetball, squash, and tennis courts.
Varsity competition in the new building begins later this week, with swim meets in the new natatorium and basketball games in the new Tomsich Arena.
But KAC is, emphatically, not just for varsity teams, Zipp stresses. "The multi-activity court and the weight room are specifically intended for general use, and almost all other areas either have ample public hours or can be reserved by any member of the College community. The building has locker rooms set aside for teams, but there's also an extensive locker area, with dry and steam saunas as well as showers, for recreational use.
"Likewise, KAC is not just for physical activity," he adds. "Faculty and staff can reserve the conference rooms for classes or meetings. The theater lends itself to any number of uses. And the design of the building, with so much glass, openness, and light, make its public spaces great for just socializing."
The building also features a café, which will open on February 1. The official dedication of KAC will take place on April 20-22, when alumni, trustees, and other visitors will join the campus community to celebrate the new facility with a series of special events.
The new building, costing approximately $70 million, replaces both the Wertheimer Fieldhouse and the Ernst Center. Wertheimer was demolished in early 2003. Ernst will close once KAC is fully operational, and part of it will be refurbished as a temporary dining hall, to be used while Peirce and Dempsey halls undergo renovation starting this summer. Eventually, Ernst will be torn down as well.
Kenyon's trustees approved the plan to build a new athletic center in April 2002. Graham Gund '63 and his architectural firm, the Gund Partnership, designed the building, and the Albert M. Higley Company supervised the construction. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in April 2003. The project also involved the complete reconstruction of the outdoor track and the football field, both of which reopened in the fall of 2004.