Squash Court Demolition Results in Weight Room Expansion and Office Suite Creation
This past April, the free-weight area on the lower level of the Student Recreation Center closed for renovations. “As the student body grew, we consistently received requests for additional power racks for weight lifting,” says Kacy Toberg, Assistant Director, Operations. Toberg continues, “When extra funds became available, Recreational Services staff members were asked to compile a wish list with an emphasis on how to respond to the desires and needs of the student body, while also looking ahead to changing trends in the fitness world.” Jenny Lehigh, Assistant Director, Fitness, adds “As more dorms were being built and more students were present on campus, the atmosphere changed. The fitness center was becoming congested as people looked for places to perform deadlifts; we needed dedicated floor space for these exercises.”
“The idea of repurposing one of the racquet courts on the lower level began about 10 years ago,” says Allen Wilbanks, Recreational Services Assistant Director, Facilities. “We looked at many architectural templates for racquet court conversions, and most of them divided the space into two levels. The question was how to access the upper level,” says Wilbanks. “Then in 2014, two Recreational Services graduate students approached me about a class project.” The students asked Wilbanks what it would cost to deck the entire lobby and use the squash court to create additional storage and office space. “Extending the deck on the main floor wasn’t feasible, but the idea of renovating the squash court instead of a racquetball court was promising.” The squash court was receiving very little use, and its placement would allow an upper level to be cantilevered out, creating even more usable square footage. The lobby would provide access to the upper level. Wilbanks explains, “We realized that we could expand the free weight area on the lower level and create a suite of offices and storage on the second level. By cantilevering the second floor, we created 2,200 square feet of usable space from the 850 square feet footprint of the squash court.” Wilbanks reached out to Construction Project Manager Brian Carroll, Facilities Construction Services, and Carroll selected Houser Walker Architecture to come up with a conceptual drawing for the project.
“It was a huge undertaking to demolish the squash court,” continues Wilbanks. The flooring, light fixtures, and metal ceiling tiles had to be removed. “We believe in reusing as much as possible,” says Wilbanks, “so the squash court walls, glass, and wood court all found a new home.” Metal ceiling tiles were re-hung and 6,600 square feet of new rubber flooring was installed, as well as all new LED light fixtures. Steel beams were constructed for the 1,100 square foot second level office and storage suite. The new office suite houses the Recreational Services marketing team, led by Judi Moss, Public Relations Specialist, as well as an office for nutritional counseling. “A suite for our nutrition consultations provides greater privacy for the personal discussions that could come up during counseling sessions,” explains Lehigh.
The expanded free-weight area on the lower level includes three additional power racks, dedicated deadlifting space, and more bars and weight plates to accommodate the larger space and new equipment. “All the feedback I’ve received has been positive,” says Lehigh. Another great feature of the expanded free-weight area is the addition of the Georgia State University flame in the floor design. “We love the new seal; it has really freshened up the space,” says Melissa Buchheit, Recreational Services Director. Lehigh agrees, “The flame creates a great atmosphere; we wanted patrons to feel like they were still on the Georgia State University campus when they were in the building.” The floor in the main level Fitness Center will be renovated with new PLAE flooring to match the floor downstairs, continuing the Georgia State University “feel” upstairs.
The expansion project was completed in August. Explains Toberg, “We purposely planned the expansion during the summer months when the construction would impact the smallest number of students. We moved some of our most heavily used equipment up to the Fitness Center on the main level so that people could continue their workout regimen while the construction was in progress.” Concludes Wilbanks, “It was amazing to see the progression of the project, starting with a raggedy hand-sketched drawing and ending up with 2,200 square feet of usable space.”