Story and photo by JOEL GANTT
After 34 years of working out in the swamp-cooled Fitness and Sports Science Center at West Campus, Pima Community College students will return later this fall to a completely renovated building.
In the short term, the project has required changes in class scheduling.
West Campus weight training FAW 110 classes were canceled due to the construction. Other fitness classes were relocated to the gym and the now-empty child development center.
The men’s soccer team scheduled its first eight games of the season on the road, and is practicing at the Kino sports facilities along with the football team.
Other sports teams are using weightlifting equipment that has been moved from the FSSC into the gym.
Athletic Operations Manager Keith Martin has had to organize a tight schedule for the teams and classes that use the gym.
“It has been smooth sailing,” Martin said. “It has been nice to see everyone work together with no problems.”
The FSSC building had never been completely renovated since its construction in 1977. The project was selected after a facilities condition audit at all campuses, and the board of governors approved a $2 million budget in April 2010.
Renovation began in June and is scheduled for completion by Nov. 10.
“With all of our projects within the college, we do our best to try to get these things done as soon as possible,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities William R. Ward II said.
A demolition process included breaking down walls and pulling up concrete, plus removing the old wiring and plumbing.
New additions will include state-of-the-art plumbing with individual shower stalls in both locker rooms, and energy efficient lighting with condensed wiring.
Project Manager Ron VanDenburgh said the new features will reduce utility bills.
The weight room will look and feel completely different. It will be more open and accessible, with a rubber floor to absorb weights and minimize noise.
Two soundproof rooms will allow exercise classes to meet without being disturbed by surrounding noises.
Perhaps the most noticeable change will be in the new cooling and heating system.
The previous antiquated evaporative cooling system, or swamp cooler, could only lower the indoor temperature by 25 degrees below the outdoor temperature. That left students exercising in 90-degree heat at times during the summer.
The new air-conditioning unit will be an energy-efficient, air-cooled chiller system that will cool the entire building.
Pima saved $30,000 by pre-purchasing the air conditioning units. The college is also refurbishing some of the old lockers to save money.