California State University, Long Beach
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It’s Here! New Recreation and Wellness Center Now Open

Published: September 1, 2010

The long-awaited campus Student Recreation and Wellness Center (SRWC) is now open for business, and it’s expected to be busy.

“We’re hoping that we’re going get 3,000-4,000 people coming through daily just because of the demand that has been on this campus for so long,” said Dave Edwards, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) Associate Executive Director/University Student Union (USU) Director. “Since every student can join, our goal is to have as many of our 34,000 students registered as active members as possible.”

The idea of a new Recreation and Wellness Center at CSULB began brewing in 2000. It advanced almost to referendum state in 2002, but the economy turned south and student leadership felt the time wasn’t right to ask for additional student fees for the project and pulled the referendum.

“But they had done a lot of leg work,” said Edwards, who began working on campus in 2004. “Some of the programmatic elements of the building were partially designed and they had gotten the university to put the concept of the building into the master plan for the campus and commit to a location.”

In 2004 discussion of the project resumed and it just so happened to coincide with Edwards’ arrival. A needs assessment was done and, despite some expected resistance from various student groups, a referendum was held in 2007 and passed with more than 74 percent of students voting in favor of the project.

“During the referendum campaign, we looked at similarly sized institutions or larger across the nation and there were only a handful in the entire country that didn’t have a recreation center,” said Edwards. “I think that was a selling point to a lot of students indicating that we were really behind the curve here.”

Edwards is quick to point out that the new center would not be a reality without the support of some key university people, including Vice Presidents Doug Robinson and Mary Stephens; staff in Physical Planning and Facilities Management and ASI; former CSULB President Robert Maxson; and especially current President F. King Alexander.

“This project was supported by both campus presidents,” said Edwards. “Dr. Maxson’s approach was that if the students wanted it, he would support it. He was here when it really got started in 2000 and when it restarted in 2004. Then it transitioned to Dr. Alexander and he is a huge supporter of this building. He has built recreation centers at other institutions and has toured many around the nation. He has been instrumental in the design and construction aspects and has been over to the construction site regularly, doing tours, checking on things and making decisions. Throughout the entire process, he has been instrumental in seeing this building completed.”

“Providing our students and campus community with state-of-the-art health and wellness facilities will bring lifelong benefits to all,” said Alexander. “It will bring individual benefits for decades to come while also bringing direct and indirect economic benefits to all citizens. From the moment this facility opened, its usefulness to our students and other campus members can be measured by the thousands who will flock to the building seven days a week.”

Recreation Swimming Pool
Photo by Victoria Sanchez
The swimming facility at the new Recreation and Wellness Center.

The center’s location was determined, according to Edwards, in part because of the desire to not build new facilities on existing green space. Therefore, the site selected needed to be on a parking lot or an existing building. And so, there it is, located on the northeast corner of campus, just off Atherton Street.

The 126,500-square-foot, two-story, state-of-the-art facility contains a three-court gym, indoor elevated jogging track, 20,000 square feet of weight and cardio equipment, racquetball courts, group fitness rooms, a custom-made rock climbing wall, a wellness and nutrition suite, swimming pool and spa, as well as many other services. The SRWC is Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) Gold certified (a green building certification system) and offers many technological advances such as biometric hand scanners for entry, filtered water fountains, and flat screens with touch technology.

“For Cal State Long Beach, which has traditionally been considered a commuter campus, it will change campus life forever,” said Edwards. “It is a place to work out and get physically fit, but it’s also a place for groups to meet and student organizations to have programs and tournaments. It’s another hub for the campus. It becomes sort of an additional student union for the campus.”

The current University Student Union, a 180,000-square-foot facility located in the middle of campus, will continue to be an important part of CSULB life.

“The traditional campus life program is still going to be in the center of campus,” said Edwards of the USU. “What the current student union does is provide an opportunity for interaction outside the classroom; it’s a gathering point. I always say that if you grabbed 10 students and asked how they used the student union, you’d get 10 different answers. That’s not going to be the case for the new recreation center. There’s a more focused use of the building. I don’t see them as competing, but really more complementing each other, providing a broad scope to the picture of campus life.”

Who can use the center? CSULB students, faculty, staff and alumni may all become members. Students membership fees are covered as part of their student fees, while faculty, staff and alumni can pay at the center. In addition, for a slightly higher fee, there is an affiliate member category that includes adult family members of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

For more information about the SRWC e-mail asi-srwc@csulb.edu or visit its website.