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UWRF to choose design team for Falcon Center

April 13, 2012

The Falcon Center for Health, Education and Wellness is in the beginning stages of development for the UW-River Falls campus and the students that will be using the facility.

“This past March, through a lot of skilled effort by the chancellor, administrative staff, and our area legislators, UWRF received approval of construction funding that will be available starting in July 2013,” said the Campus Planner Dale Braun in an email.

The architect and engineer team is expected to be hired by July 1 to go forward with design plans.

According to the health and human performance (HHP) webpage on the UWRF site, the building will contain classrooms, human performance and anatomy laboratories, a large gymnasium, dance studio, smooth surface gym, offices, locker rooms, training rooms and other needed space.

“It has been a long process,” Faye Perkins, a health and human performance professor said.

Perkins has been a part of UWRF since 1988 and the University was talking about the need for new facilities then. In 1990, a planning committee was established.

“Our current facilities are so outdated and have outgrown our enrollment,” Perkins said.

The Karges Education Center was built in 1959 when about 1,500 students attended UWRF with no athletics for women. However, as of fall 2011 there are about 6,700 students that attend the University with 18 intercollegiate sports.

“The Karges Center has lived well beyond the resources,” said Perkins. “Our classrooms are dilapidated and the labs are mostly inadequate.”

The new building will serve as a center for the HHP education program, student-athlete/athletic needs, and other general needs for students and for the community members as well.

“Getting key facilities for our athletics program will help bring in athletes and improve our program,” said Crystal Lanning, the assistant athletic director, senior woman administrator and assistant athletic trainer.

The football field and basketball facilities are the most outdated from an athletics stand point when compared to other schools in the UW System. The HHP program is running out of space to fit their needs.

“Our program is under ‘enrollment management’ because facilities are so bad,” said Perkins.

The enrollment management means that the HHP program is limited to the number of students who are allowed into the major.

“We could grow if there are better facilities and more staff for the students,” Perkins said.

There are currently 250 students with HHP majors and there are five different minors of coaching, dance education, adaptive physical education, outdoor education and health education.

“The intent for the building is to help improve HHP for educational reasons and for students to learn more,” Lanning said.

The plan for the building is to help in all aspects of athletics, education and campus life.

On the HHP webpage, the plan states that there will be maintenance work done for the Hunt/Knowles complex. The Karges Education Center and Emogene Nelson Building will be demolished.

There will also be a 350-stall parking lot next to the new Falcon Center.

“This project is a very large, expensive, and complex project that takes quite a while to accomplish,” said Braun. “There are many steps involved, from creating the plans, to gaining funding, to getting permission to construct and then the actual construction itself.”

The project has taken more than a decade to be approved by the state of Wisconsin.

There have been other needs of the state’s money instead of a new sports/education facility for UWRF.

The approval came through in 2009 and a little over $1 million was granted for the planning part, which took two years.

Then in 2011 there was $2 million granted for the design faze of hiring architects and engineers.

To build the building, $63 million was budgeted for the completion of the construction.

The total time this project will take totals to about 30 years, from recognizing the need for the project to the day the new building will be open for use.

The new building is scheduled to begin construction in September 2014.

If the building of the new facility remains on schedule, it will be open for use in December 2016.

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