Wellness Center renovation on hold

Aerial view of future plans for expansion of the Wellness Center.  Courtesy of the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center
Aerial view of future plans for expansion of the Wellness Center. Courtesy of the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center

A vision still awaiting fruition, the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center has yet to begin its expansion.

Due to the economy’s downturn and the university’s current financial situation, President Donna E. Shalala issued a building moratorium last year.

Construction was halted indefinitely on projects university-wide, including the Wellness Center expansion and the new Student Activity Center among others.

“Once senior administration gives us the green light, we will proceed ‘full speed ahead,’ ” said Alan Rose, the assistant director of facilities at the Wellness Center.

It is unknown how long students must wait before the expansion will begin.

Nevertheless, students anticipate the exciting features to come, from brand new Pilates reformer machines to a state-of-the-art studio cycling room.

“Wellness is a very important aspect to living a healthy life,” sophomore Meaghan Gaynor said. “UM is always looking into the future.”

The $6 million renovation is slated to take a total of twelve months to complete, and will add a total of 20,000 square feet to the Wellness Center. The decision to expand was prompted by heavy use of the center.

The project will include the creation of new spaces and renovations to existing spaces. The area currently occupied by the outdoor courtyard will become the new addition to the Wellness Center.

The workout area on the first floor will also be extended in this addition.

“We will increase the number of machines by about 30 percent and will have more space between each machine,” said Norm Parsons, director of the Wellness Center. “We hope to gain 7,000 square feet [in the workout room].”

On the second floor, students will find a new Pilates studio, two multipurpose rooms and a cycling studio complete with South Beach-worthy sound and lights systems.

“It’s cool that [the university] is putting more money into the Wellness Center,” sophomore Katie Ondrasik said. “More people will want to spend time there.”

When the construction begins, students will see changes in the setup of the Wellness Center, but will not be negatively affected by the construction.

“We will relocate all the workout equipment to the gymnasium, “ Parsons said. “Students will walk outside around the perimeter of the building to get into this area and will still be able to use about 95 percent of the workout equipment.”

The outdoor basketball courts will be used as a staging area during construction, though they will be available to students once the project is completed.

All other areas of the center, like the pool and juice bar, will not be affected and will remain open.

At this time, there are no further plans to renovate other parts of the building. Although construction on the Wellness Center will not begin for quite some time, the entire university community looks forward to the project’s commencement.

“We are excited and anxious to get started, as is President Shalala,” Parsons said. “We are also very grateful to the Herberts for helping us with this cause.”