The renovation of the Sports Center is on the horizon.
Katie Pelletier ’03
July 19, 2022
In mid-February 2021, Portland was hit by a powerful winter storm that dumped six inches of snow and ice across the metro area. The storm downed trees, caused power loss and demolished several buildings in the Portland area, including the roof of Gymnasiums I and II at Reed’s Watzek Sports Center. Thanks to the building’s alarm system and the quick response of staff, no one was hurt, but both gyms were a total loss. Since then, the area has been cordoned off.
But the gymnasiums will be rebuilt and the areas that once housed kickboxing, fencing, juggling, the infamous old school vs. student basketball games and other activities will soon be ready for action. Plans are about to be finalized and reconstruction is expected to begin in early spring next year.
The renovation will bring updates to the entire sports center. Built in 1965, the Watzek Sports Center replaced the original Tudor Gothic-style sports hall which had been built in 1913. It has seen several updates, including the replacement of the squash courts in honor of Jack Scrivens [physical education 1961–99](with donations from alumni) and a major renovation to add an outdoor education center, with support from Reed Trustee Tim Boyle.
This renovation will bring a modest change in square footage – approximately 1,000 square feet – but transform the space into a more welcoming and inclusive community center.
“The concept is that the sports center is not just a place of fitness, but a center of well-being”, explains Steve Yeadon, Facilities Operations Manager. Conceptually, the design of the building will be inspired by the Performing Arts Building. “It will be more open,” he said. “You will be able to see into the spaces so the rooms feel integrated.”
A large east-facing window in the new multipurpose gymnasium will overlook a courtyard that can be used for outdoor yoga or tai chi classes. The south entrance to the building adjacent to the courtyard will be more inviting, and the check-in and equipment rental area will move from the Botsford Drive entrance to the renovated south entrance vestibule. The corridor running through the center of the building will add space for relaxation and table tennis.
Many changes will make the sports center more inclusive and accessible to ADAs; a notable improvement is that its square footage will be spread over three floors instead of four. The changing rooms will be remodeled to create more privacy, and a changing room for all users will be added which, like the women’s and men’s changing rooms, will have access to the swimming pool.
As for gyms, the new iterations of Gym I and Gym II will bring many updates. The basketball court will have a run-off space and windows placed in a saw-tooth configuration will let in more daylight without the blinding effects of direct lights from outside. The Gym II will be equipped with additional storage space for the many activities housed in this versatile space.
Despite a volatile market for building materials, Yeadon is confident that the renovation of the sports center will be completed by the fall of 2024. The college has drawn up a financing plan for the project. With prices escalating, philanthropic support is welcome and will allow us to include all aspects of project design.
Tags: Campus Life, Health/Wellness, Institutional, Sports and Adventures