Board of trustees approves initial plans for new Roble gym

Jan. 7, 2011, 3:04 a.m.

The Stanford board of trustees gave concept approval for a new 75,000-square-foot recreation center to be built on the west end of Roble Field at its December meeting.

Construction for the project, estimated to cost around $30 million, will be funded entirely by a group of major donors, which currently includes John Arrillaga ’60 and the Avery family, among others.

Board of trustees approves initial plans for new Roble gym
The newly approved plans for a recreational and fitness center on Roble field will include basketball courts, a fitness center, climbing wall and a new 50-meter outdoor pool. (PHOTO STAFF/ THE STANFORD DAILY)

The University will foot the bill for development and pay daily operational costs.

Those involved with the project say the facility will fill a void for indoor recreational areas on the west side of campus.

“The campus map speaks to the situation,” project manager Mark Bonino wrote in an e-mail to The Daily. “Most of the recreation and fitness facilities are located around the Athletics zone in the East part of the campus while the West part of campus has few fitness facilities outside of Tresidder, West Campus tennis courts, and outdoor fields at Roble and Sand Hill.”

Roble Gymnasium used to satisfy this need: it contained a basketball court, locker rooms, ping-pong tables and a cycling area.

But when the dance division needed more space, much of the gym’s equipment was packed up and moved over to the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation, located on the east side of campus, which opened its doors in February 2006.

“We kind of lost a foothold for recreational activity,” deputy director of athletics Ray Purpur said, “and we’ve had a lot of comments and a lot of feedback over the five years that there’s just no indoor recreation areas on that side of campus.”

The building’s location has also been chosen to account for future University expansion. According to the University’s master plan, there will be future development of residential halls on that side of campus.

“With campus development heading west,” Bonino said, “there’s an increasing demand for these facilities.”

And while a general lack of funding and limitations under Stanford’s General Use Permit have posed obstacles in the past, the financial support of donors — as well as new University-wide initiatives emphasizing fitness and wellness — have finally made the project a reality.

The center will include basketball courts, fitness and recreation studios, a rock-climbing wall and a new outdoor 50-meter swimming pool. In coming up with the design of the facility, Purpur said they looked at feedback left on comment cards at existing campus recreation centers to get input from students.

“One of our common feedbacks is that the rock-climbing wall [at Arrillaga] is very inadequate,” Purpur said. “So we are going to be putting in a new rock-climbing wall in the new building.”

The facility will not only be the same size as the current Arrillaga Center. It will also look the same.

“We love the look of that building,” Purpur said, “so we are going to copy it.”

The difference, Bonino said, will be on the inside.

“There will be more studio space to house a variety of different wellness and fitness programs, and of course, the swimming pool provides water fitness to match the recreation pool at the Avery Aquatics Center,” Bonino said, “and we will have lockers and showers, which are not present in the Arrillaga Center.”

To make room for construction, an existing swimming pool by Roble Field and a group of temporary buildings will be removed, and the locker rooms behind the pool will be converted into another space.

However, there are no plans to alter any existing campus recreation centers.

The Department of Athletics will monitor the usage of the gym at Tresidder Union to see if attendance decreases as a result. If this is the case, the gym may be removed, but Purpur does not expect this to be the case.

“I think they’ll augment each other,” Purpur said.

This week, the Department of Land, Buildings & Real Estate plans on submitting its first entitlements for architecture and site approval. Within the next couple of months, building permits will be submitted as well.

While no timeline has been set yet, construction is anticipated to begin in the summer of 2011 with completion estimated by late 2012.

“I think this will bring a new destination to the community,” Purpur said. “It will be a recreation destination where you can jog, swim and take a shower after you work out on that side of campus.”

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