Lemonade Out of Lemons: New and Improved Gym on the Horizon

Collapsed gymnasium to be rebuilt by fall of 2024

Two long years after the collapse of Reed’s sports center, reconstruction of the building is set to begin any day now. The new gym is scheduled to be finished by August of 2024 and offers many new, exciting amenities. 

Michael Lombardo, Director of Athletics, Fitness, and Outdoor Programs, states that the new building will offer all the activities provided before the collapse, and then some! Lombardo also emphasizes that the main focus while designing the new gym was to cultivate an inclusive and friendly environment that prioritized student wellness. He states that from the very beginning, the new gym’s design is about “more accessibility, easier ADA access, and just a more inviting, easy to maneuver around environment.”

The new building will host a large gymnasium allowing indoor basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and badminton. In addition, the building will also have two “multipurpose venues,” which, as their name implies, will be able to accommodate a variety of activities: martial arts, yoga, pilates, wellness classes, and potentially many more. 

Additionally, the gym will host a new lounge area in front of the current Outdoor Center, where students can relax and play table tennis, a sport that used to be offered as a PE class. When the gym collapsed in 2021, all the table tennis tables were destroyed, but the new gym’s lounge will be equipped with seven new tables. 

In conjunction with the gym’s construction, the sports center will also be remodeled, specifically the locker rooms. With the new design, there will be an additional gender-non-exclusive changing and shower area with a sauna included. 

It is important to note that the current sports center has one small all-gender locker room, as well as two all-gender bathrooms, and patrons are encouraged to use whichever locker/shower room they feel most comfortable with. Saunas at this time are divided by the Men’s and Women’s locker rooms. 

The location of the cage will also change, and by the end of the construction, it will be located on the main level next to what currently is the dance studio. This will improve accessibility, and with its location next to the elevator, will hopefully be more accommodating to students with disabilities. 

While construction is happening, students may expect noise, especially with initial demolitions. There will also be blocked-off areas to separate construction workers and patrons, and temporary walls will restrict some areas in the current Sports Center. Certain entrances may also be blocked off, so students should be on the lookout for signs indicating which entrance they should use. Additionally, some areas such as the cardio room or the locker rooms may be fully inaccessible while the construction is going on. As Steve Yeadon, Director of Facilities Operations states “How people using the space will access the area will change from time to time throughout the construction process. There will be points in time where some existing services may not be available for weeks or maybe a couple months.” Lombardo adds that “There is going to be a good amount of disruption for the next year and a half, I’m going to try as hard as I can to keep the sports center open for patron access as possible … I am asking the community to be understanding and flexible”

Yeadon also notes that the West Parking Lot is likely to become much more congested as construction progresses, and urges students who park there to be mindful of the space, and aware of the approaching influx of construction vehicles. 

Despite this temporary inconvenience, Lombardo advises students to focus on the exciting end goal of a new and improved Reed gymnasium. He states that “While the previous sports center was charming and cozy, it was dated,” and, “a little bit more off-putting for students that maybe don’t feel quite comfortable exercising … I think this new building will be a lot warmer, much more inviting, and just aesthetically more attractive.” 

Lombardo also urges students to think of the gym as a relaxing place to have fun and connect outside of a classroom or library setting. He emphasizes that PE classes are meant to help students take a break from the daily monotony of academic rigor, and allow them to focus on their physical and mental wellness in addition to their classes. He states that under the AFOP (Athletic, Fitness, and Outdoor programs), “student enjoyment, fitness, and skill learning are emphasized; competition is not.” PE classes are aimed to “provide options for students to manage stress in a healthy and constructive way, help students learn positive lifestyle skills, provide an environment that encourages a holistic approach to life and, hopefully, to unwind a bit and just have some fun!”

Under these principles of inclusivity, wellness, and accessibility, the new gym hopes to honor all the goals of Lombardo and the rest of the AFOP staff. As Yeadon states, “The original building was built in 1964, and they probably had much different needs than we do now for wellness and health.” While the collapse of the old gym was difficult, and construction will pose some inconveniences, Lombardo encourages students to view the new gym as “lemonade out of lemons,” and that “the reconstruction and opening of the remodeled sports center will be a fantastic opportunity to rethink how we will use this space in the future as a center that is inclusive, relevant and community-building.” Lombardo also heavily values student feedback, so if you have any questions or criticisms, please feel free to email him at lombardm@reed.edu.

By Cass Biles

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