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Design phase begins for HHP building

October 23, 2008

The design phase has begun for the $54 million health and human performances project, which is expected to break ground in late 2011.

“It will recreate the physical education program of the whole campus into one big complex,” Campus Planner Dale Braun said.

The plan is to completely demolish Karges and the Nelson Center. The project will include a new gym, dance studio, racquetball courts, pool, strength and condition center, locker rooms, aerobics studio and physiology lab.

The project could also include moving fields, expanding parking and a new road extending from Cemetery Road and South 6th Street up to the new complex. 

“It will be a 200,000 square foot space, 33 percent bigger than the student center,” Braun said. “This will be the biggest project ever done on campus.”

The HHP program has had issues because of inadequate facilities. The Karges Center has a poor ventilation system and no air conditioning, causing students to always be either be too hot or cold, and the University’s swimming pool is too small to host events, Debra Allyn, health and human performances professor, said.

“When the heaters are working it is too hard to hear in class,” Allyn said.

Currently there is a lack of equipment and technology for some of the exercise science labs.

“The health and human services are not adequate to help us apply what we’ve been learning,” Jake Verner, HHP senior, said.  “The floors are falling apart, the tiles shift at your feet and the equipment is the same as what it was in the early 1990s.”

The new facility will allow for more hands on experience and application, Allyn said.

The money for this project comes from state general fees, parking fees, the UW-River Falls Foundation and student fees, Braun said. Last March the Wisconsin Building Commission allocated more than $1 million to UWRF for the project.

UWRF students, staff and faculty put forth tremendous effort in the spring of 2007 for the University to receive state funding.  A petition of 1,700 signatures and letters written by HHP staff members was presented to legislators in Madison.

“A number of Health and Human Performance students encouraged students to sign a petition in support of the funding for the building,” Allyn said. “Then three students took the petitions to Madison and actually met some of the representatives.”

Faculty and staff have been working on the planning of the building for 20 years, Allyn said.

“To have an architect team for the pre-design phase is exciting.  We can see some light at the end of the tunnel,” Allyn said.