About the Campaign
Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, President of St. Ambrose University
As a leading Midwestern Catholic university, our mission requires that we continually enhance the vitality of our community in ways that allow our learning environment to evolve and grow along with the needs and interests of our students.
In this day and age, it is simply a must that we provide access to adequate wellness and fitness facilities. Not only is the existing PE Center more than 30 years old and challenged to accommodate the volume of daily activity required of an institution our size, but lack of modern facilities is also a challenge in the recruitment of future students.
With the help and guidance of key leaders among our Board of Trustees, alumni and friends, we have identified the construction of a new wellness and recreation center as one of our highest priorities. Such a facility will build on the holistic environment we encourage.
Since our founding in 1882, St. Ambrose has been fulfilling its mission of enriching lives. I am proud of what the university has achieved over the course of more than 130 years. Together we will continue to grow and build toward a future of excellence for St. Ambrose University.
When construction began on the current PE Center, overall enrollment stood at around 2,000. Twenty years later, the number of students had climbed to more than 3,000, and the number of varsity athletics teams had doubled.
Today, a major portion of our student population is here specifically to learn how to enhance the physical well-being of others through our expanding health sciences curricula. Meanwhile, St. Ambrose students and prospective students of all educational disciplines are keenly interested in truly modern recreational facilities, where they can work to stay or become physically fit through all the means modern exercise science can provide.
Access to quality wellness and recreation facilities is a definite expectation for today's students when selecting a university. Significant upgrades and expansion are necessary for St. Ambrose to bring its current facilities up to par not only with competitive peer institutions but also with the caliber of amenities available in many high schools in this day and age.
Knowing this, the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees approved plans for the construction of a new wellness and recreation center as the highest priority in a 10-year master plan created in Fall 2011.
More than 750 of the 3,500-plus students who enrolled at St. Ambrose this year were student-athletes. More than 35 percent of undergraduates and more than half of first-year students are members of our 23 varsity athletics teams.
Building a new wellness and recreation center is our first priority to address the need for significant upgrades to wellness, recreation and athletics-related facilities at St. Ambrose.
Athletics teams currently must share available space with intramural sports groups and academic classes. The current PE Center is the only on-campus facility to serve all of their needs-requiring athletes to use off-campus practice and competition options at the former Marycrest campus, Brady Street stadium, the Ambrose Dome and many other locations. Despite these challenges, Fighting Bees teams have continued to excel on the field and court.
An impressive catalog of first-class academic offerings and state-of-the-art residential halls are major assets in recruiting athletes and non-athletes alike. But wellness and athletics are the "third leg" of recruitment, and currently St. Ambrose does not have quality facilities to match the talent and dedication of our Fighting Bees student-athletes.
Last year, about 40 percent of all St. Ambrose undergraduate students participated in organized intramural sports and recreational activities. Prospective St. Ambrose students and their parents increasingly are interested in knowing about the facilities and programs the school has to offer that can help students stay strong and healthy.
The current gymnasium struggles to accommodate the 40-plus volleyball teams and more than 55 basketball teams that participated in intramural leagues this past year. Activities organized by the Wellness and Recreation Office alone can occupy the gym from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. There is almost no time for an informal game of pick-up basketball or volleyball or badminton.
Nearly 10 club sports have been added to the campus activity roster in recent years. Also growing in popularity, especially among female students, are aerobic dance activities such as Zumba. The number of people using the PE Center weight room has increased from an average of 750 to more than 1,000 per week in just the past year.
The main obstacle to our students participating in intramurals, recreational, and fitness activities is the limited availability of space and equipment. To build for our future, a wellness and recreation center is needed that can meet the needs of today's and tomorrow's Ambrosians.
The new Wellness and Recreation Center will have 80,000-square-feet of space. It will be located adjacent to, and just west of, the current Physical Education Center on the north side of the St. Ambrose campus near its Lombard Street border.
Work is scheduled to be completed in time for use by the class entering in fall 2017. The new facilities will provide exercise and activity space for the general student population, lab space for some of the University's health and wellness-related academic programs including Kinesiology, and much-needed practice space for student-athletes who participate in the University's 23 varsity sports.
The building, designed by RDG Planning and Design of Des Moines, Iowa, will have a distinctive half-barrel roof construction that is reminiscent of a 1950s-era field house; and, a largely brick exterior, in keeping with other campus facilities. The design will feature large, light-filled spaces. Numerous windows below the roof line, and some areas with glass walls, will give the interior an open feel and give students great views inside the building and out to the campus.
• Building Our Future Campaign fundraising goal: $18.5 million
• Largest single capital project in St. Ambrose's 134-year history
Space 80,000-square-feet total
Location North side of campus near Lombard Street, adjacent to and west of the current PE Center
• Half-barrel roof reminiscent of a 1950s-era field house
• Brick exterior, in keeping with other campus buildings
• Exercise and activity space for students, faculty and staff
• Lab space for health and wellness-related academic programs, including Kinesiology
• Practice space for student-athletes
Major Interior Features
• Field House: 56,000-square-feet; with 200-meter competition track, pole vault areas, long- and triple-jump pits; and, four basketball/volleyball courts (two wooden floor courts, two resilient flooring courts)
• Cardio Workout/Weight Room: 5,200-square-feet; two-story; with recreational machines and weights
• Group Exercise Room: 2,200-square-feet multipurpose area; for movement classes, group exercise, cheerleading and dance practices
• Exercise Physiology lab
• Club Room: 1,200-square-feet; for meetings, recruiting and fundraising events
• Hall of Fame: displays featuring Fighting Bee pictures, trophies and memorabilia
Interior Design Aesthetics
• Large, light-filled spaces
• Numerous windows below roofline and some interior and exterior glass walls
• Open sightlines within the building and out to campus
Concurrent Renovation Work
Approximately 19,000-square-feet of space in the 33-year-old PE Center will be remodeled and repurposed for an athletics weight room; new Athletics Department and Wellness and Recreation offices.
Lead Architect Jack Patton, RDG Planning and Design, Des Moines, Iowa
General Contractor Russell Construction, Davenport, Iowa
Wellness and Recreation Center Opening Scheduled for fall 2017
Among the major interior features of the Wellness and Recreation Center will be a 5,200-square-foot, two-story cardio workout and weight room with machines and weights more suited to recreational athletes. A 2,200-square-foot multipurpose group exercise room will be used by the Kinesiology Department for movement-type courses, by Wellness and Recreation for group exercise, and by the Athletics Department for cheerleading and dance team practices. An Exercise Physiology lab will help serve the growing student interest in Kinesiology majors and careers related to health and wellness.
A major portion of the space within the Wellness and Recreation Center will be devoted to a 56,000-square-foot field house, which will provide multipurpose areas for recreation, intramurals, athletics practices and some varsity competitions. Primary features of the field house will be a 200-meter competition track, pole vault areas, and long- and triple-jump pits; and, four basketball/volleyball courts, including two wooden floor courts and two courts made of resilient flooring.
A 1,200-square-foot Club Room will be located near the main entry lobby. This space will be used for events, as a conference room for the Kinesiology, Athletics and Wellness and Recreation departments, and for recruiting and advancement events. The lobby area outside of the Club Room will include pictures, trophies and memorabilia celebrating Fighting Bee athletics, and a new Hall of Fame area to honor the accomplishments of players and coaches. The St. Ambrose Athletics Hall of Fame has inducted more than 275 individuals and six teams since it was established in 1979.
The development of the new Wellness and Recreation Center will allow the University to repurpose and remodel approximately 19,000-square-feet of space in the existing, 33-year-old PE Center. That work will create space for a second weight room dedicated primarily to athletics teams use, and new offices for the Athletics Department and Wellness and Recreation. Varsity basketball and volleyball games will continue to be held on Leo Kilfoy Court in the PE Center.