Renovations to the Keohane Sports Center (KSC) Fieldhouse began in March, and the construction remains on schedule, which means that the Fieldhouse will likely be open for second semester this year as projected.
A smaller scale renovation project was also started on the boathouse at the beginning of the month. This project is scheduled to finish in May 2015.
Although the remodeling was initially delayed due to difficulty in obtaining work permits, all of the construction since the project started has proceeded smoothly according to Bridget Belgiovine, director of athletics, who is also serving as the client lead for this project. In this capacity, Belgiovine works with the project manager and helps unify differing opinions and priorities to create a plan for construction.
Belgiovine dispelled rumors that the progress on the field house renovation was behind schedule.
“The actual construction is not at all behind, the workers have been amazing. They have been very accommodating. We were not issued the building permits as scheduled. However, we are still on schedule to open for the spring semester,” Belgiovine said. She then added that had the construction started earlier in the year, it likely would have finished at the end of December instead of in January, which would have given them more time to put equipment in place.
The fieldhouse needed renovation because the building is no longer considered a state of the art facility, due to aging and changes in the field of fitness.
“Sports and fitness facilities have changed dramatically, and this building is over 35 years old. It was, in fact, state of the art when it opened in 1985, and it is clearly no longer state of the art. And that’s just the nature of how construction and building and fitness and sports fitness have changed rather dramatically,” Belgiovine said.
In addition, structural problems, such as leaks in the ceilings and walls, were also a factor in renovating the building.
However, Belgiovine emphasizes that the push for renovation also came from an increased focus on fitness among the student body.
“As the varsity programs have grown and as student interest in fitness has grown, we have actually outgrown the spaces, and the multi-use purposes of the spaces became problematic,” Belgiovine said.
The changes that will take place in the fieldhouse during the construction include a total renovation of the roof and walls, as well as the addition of a new permanent wood floor and a set of retractable bleachers that will serve the basketball and volleyball teams. The renovation will reduce the number of tennis courts and add a new track, a larger batting cage and smaller features that include an additional entrance, meeting spaces and refurbished bathrooms.
Currently, renovations on the exterior of the building are complete except for the addition of windows. The construction team is now working on laying down the final wood flooring and preparing the walls for painting.
Meanwhile, a completely new feature is being added: a mezzanine with a fitness center that overlooks the fieldhouse. The mezzanine will have a total area of over 4,000 square feet and will be climate-controlled and soundproofed, so that noise within the fitness center does not spill over into the fieldhouse.
According to the project manager, Paul McAndrew, the addition of the fitness center was not a part of initial plans at the beginning of the project, but the design team added it.
“If you go back to the very start of this project, the project was really just a field house renovation that included a building envelope and a new sports floor. There were amazing components that we added to this project to make it what it is today,” McAndrews said.
The boathouse project was proposed with the KSC renovation project; however, funding was only granted to the field house project. As a result, the boathouse project is being funded thanks to the generosity of Alice Butler ’53 and her husband John.
Belgiovine explains that the boathouse is important to the college because of its unique location and history.
“The current boathouse dates back to 1963 and is a rare facility as it sits on the water. It is a campus jewel, given the setting of Lake Waban, with a proud and valued history and use by many Wellesley students and alumnae,” Belgiovine said.
The boathouse requires repairs to its roof and siding, as well as a classroom that will be added during the construction process. The basic structure of the building will remain the same, but new pulleys will be added for use with the barge, and the electrical system will be changed to accommodate the impact of flooding.
Construction on the fieldhouse affects the tennis and basketball teams the most. The tennis team had to move several matches this fall because they couldn’t access the indoor courts. The basketball team has also had to practice at NEWMAC opponent Babson College, which has forced them to switch to a morning practice schedule instead of their usual afternoon practice time. In addition, the basketball team will have to play all of their home games at Babson until January.
According to basketball co-captain Meghan Sargent ’15, adjusting to the morning schedule has been tricky, and there are small things that the team can no longer do without a home court.
“It has been a little tough practicing in the morning, but we are doing pretty well with that,” Sargent said. “It has been hard not having a space where we can easily go to shoot around both before and after practice or just at other times when we want to get some extra shots in.”
The renovations seeks to eliminate the need for varsity athletes and other community members to share the same space. Varsity teams will maintain a separate conditioning space, and the addition of the new fitness center will allow community members and physical education classes enough space to work out at the same time.
Sargent explains that for the basketball team, the additional space will ultimately be beneficial because it will allow the team to have a regulation-size court where the team can practice.
“The past three years, we have not had a permanent, regulation-size basketball court. During the off season, we had to play in the multipurpose gym. The court in that gym is much smaller than the court we play on for games. We also had to practice off campus at the beginning of every season because the basketball court did not go down before our season started,” Sargent said.
The Wellesley community will be able to use the fieldhouse once again when it opens for the spring semester.
Photo by Grace Ballenger ’17, Staff Writer