An artist’s rendering depicts a proposed interior view of the new Recreation and Wellness Center under construction on UMSL’s North Campus. The center, which is scheduled to open at the start of the fall 2015 semester, will include wish-list items such a rock-climbing wall, an elevated, inclined running track and a court in the gym for indoor soccer and floor hockey. (Rendering provided by Cannon Design)

Despite 2014’s polar vortex, snow and sleet, construction of the new Recreation and Wellness Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is right on schedule – due to open at the beginning of the fall semester 2015.

According to student affairs administrators, the drawings on a piece of paper are closer to reality.

“We are in the construction phase now and everything we plan is exponentially more than exists on campus today, “said Larry Coffin, assistant director of athletics, recreational and intramural sports. “It’s going to rival anything in the community.”

One of the items that moved from wish list to reality is a climbing wall, the newest trend in recreation and fitness facilities on college campuses.

Miriam Roccia, assistant dean of students, Coffin and a group of students went on a field trip recently to look at two rock-climbing gyms in St. Louis and bring back some ideas.

“A rock-climbing wall has been strongly recommended by our students who have been involved in the planning since the beginning of the process,” Roccia said. “It was an alternate before, but once we budgeted for the necessities, we were able to look at our wish list.”

Recreation and Wellness Center at UMSL

The rendering depicts the external appearance of the future Recreation and Wellness Center at UMSL. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Rebekah Cripe, a junior majoring in education with a special education emphasis and a Pierre Laclede Honors College student, is a rock climber and made sure she was part of the field trip.

“The only thing I had on my wish list was a rock wall,” said Cripe. “I love rock climbing and wanted to get involved with planning it.”

UMSL officially broke ground in November for the $36 million Recreation and Wellness Center. Funding for the center will come from an additional student fee of $19.25 per credit hour approved by students in 2012. The project architect for the approximately 99,000-square-foot-center is Cannon Design. River City LLC, based in Ashland, Mo., is the general contractor. The rec center is being built just south of the Millennium Student Center on North Campus.

The new center will be open to currently enrolled students with a Triton ID card. Faculty, staff and alumni will pay a membership fee that will be competitive with local health clubs in the St. Louis area.

With its sleek glass design and some of the top features to be found in college rec centers, UMSL students will have a hard time not investing in physical fitness.

Roccia and Coffin revealed additional details planned for the new Recreation and Wellness Center including:

  • The pool area will have four lap lanes, open areas with accessible entry points, a large spa, a zip line and an aquatic climbing wall.
  • One of the courts in the three-court gym will be a rubberized multipurpose activity court, enclosed with dasher boards and used for indoor soccer, floor hockey and other activities.
  • An elevated running track will have an inclined portion, which coupled with views along the glass walls, will approximate running outdoors.
  • Fitness areas will include 20-30 treadmills on three floors and fitness studios for classes such as zumba, yoga, spinning and martial arts.

“We are designing a building that will be here for a long time,” said Roccia. “It will operate 16-18 hours a day and provide great opportunities for student recreation, fitness and employment.”

Information and a live stream of the construction site can be seen at Check the Rec.

The UMSL Experience

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel