AU Recreation & Wellness Center nears completion

Auburn University will soon provide students with the longest indoor running track in the country, an in-pool rock climbing wall and much more in the new Recreation and Wellness Center.

Jennifer Jarvis, center director, said she’s excited for students, faculty and staff at the university to walk into the building for the first time. It’s slated to open Aug. 19.

“This is what students and faculty wanted from the beginning,” Jarvis said. “They wanted a wow factor and they wanted something uniquely Auburn. We told our architects from the beginning, ‘We don’t have to have the biggest, but we want to have the best.’”

The indoor running track, which Jarvis said is a “corkscrew shape,” covers several levels of the facility and stretches a third of a mile in length.

The “fitness tower,” which faces Heisman Drive and the Village residence halls, will hold weight rooms, personal fitness rooms, a cycling room and a yoga studio at the top of the tower.

There are two rock climbing towers reaching 50-feet high and two climbing caves. Students and staff can check out climbing gear at the facility.

The center also houses four racquetball courts, an indoor soccer field, eight basketball courts and a PGA golf simulation room.

One of the facility’s biggest attractions is the outdoor leisure and activity pool.

“There’s an area that’s basically zero depth and you just come lay out in the pool,” Jarvis said. “Then the climbing wall is the only one like it in the country. It’s a 20-foot climbing wall out of the deep end.”

The pool also includes a diving well, an in-pool volleyball court, swimming lanes and a separate 50-seat hot tub.

“We want this to be a destination, especially for our students who live in the Village and on campus who don’t have a pool like at an apartment complex,” Jarvis said. “This is going to be a great social activity. If we’re playing Mississippi State on a Saturday away, we’ll put a screen in, throw some inner tubes in the pool and say, ‘Come watch the game with us!’”

Jarvis said designers put thought into how students would enjoy the building. There are 16 terraces on the building so students can enjoy the outdoors and views of campus after finishing their workouts.

“Off of the cardio wing, the weight room, the group fitness area and more there are terraces to kind of bring the outdoors in,” Jarvis said.

The marriage of indoors and outdoors was a major theme of the center. In its center is a courtyard full of vegetation and fresh air.

“It’s the only area in the building that’s not covered by roof,” Jarvis said. “There will be benches and a fountain going in there, and I think it’s going to be a really amazing place for our students and faculty to be able to get away.”

The running track also overlooks outdoor images spanning several stories of the building. Jarvis said all the graphics throughout the building are pictures taken from the Auburn area, primarily Chewacla State Park.

The center will house Auburn Outdoors, a new program at the university that will plan outdoor trips for students and rent out equipment including kayaks, canoes, bikes and more.

“We’re very excited about Auburn Outdoors, because we’ve never had this program before,” Jarvis said. “Years ago they had some type of outdoor program at Auburn, but not to this extent.”

Finally, in the heart of the facility and beneath the running track is a gymnasium with six courts and built in bleachers seating several hundred. At the far end of the gym, an image of an eagle in flight can be seen against a floor-to-ceiling window.

“When you’ve got a gymnasium that wows you, you know you’ve got something special,” Jarvis said. “When you walk in here, I think everyone will agree it’s not like anything else you’ll see.”

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