RAC Renovations Press Onward
UMBC Community To Benefit From New Programming Options
The original building, which houses the arena and natatorium, will be getting a major facelift and is off-line indefinitely. However, the three RAC multipurpose courts, the cardio balcony, weight room, fitness studio and locker rooms will come back on-line once the university re-opens.
Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Physical Education and Recreation Gary Wohlstetter describes the project as being transformative for the campus. “The ‘new RAC’ will provide the UMBC community with the ability to participate in a variety of extensive and diverse recreational opportunities to meet their health and wellness goals. Student life will be enhanced through the many new programming options in fitness and wellness, intramurals, club sports and open recreation. Social spaces are being created to attract our students and make them feel the RAC will be a gathering place for all.”
Chad Cradock, ’97, psychology, director of aquatic programs and head swimming and diving coach, shares Wohlstetter’s enthusiasm for the project. “In aquatics, we are so excited and grateful to our university and the administration for believing that student-wellness is our primary mission. The renovation will help all students, faculty, staff and guests focus on health and wellness.”
The UMBC Office of Facilities Management will manage the project and J. Vinton Schafer & Sons serves as the contractor.
Enhancements to the recreation program include:
- Additional weight training space,
- Additional cardiovascular space,
- Additional group exercise space,
- Four new multipurpose room spaces,
- New general use poolside locker rooms,
- A new spin cycle room, a functional fitness space, office space, upgrades to the lobby, RAC court flooring and all finishes.
“The UMBC design team and architects did a wonderful job listening to us as end-users regarding the needs of the students and the campus community,” Wohlstetter said. “One of the biggest impacts will be the enhancement of fitness/wellness spaces. We will be moving from four to 10 spaces with the completion of the project. The addition of these dynamic spaces will bring a fresh, new aspect that UMBC Recreation has never offered.”
Enhancements to the varsity aquatics program include new locker rooms, a classroom and a training room, along with overall significantly better access for the athletes and spectators to the facility.
“The varsity teams are thrilled to have their own, dedicated spaces for the first time in our program’s long and storied history… and this will help our recruiting immensely,” said Cradock.
The guiding principles of the project include:
- Create an engaging and inviting student life destination that students see as their own.
- Create a facility that reflects pride for students and all UMBC constituents.
- Provide flexibility for a wide array of recreational program offerings.
- Improve building circulation to accommodate recreation activities and events simultaneously.
- Increase opportunities and expand support for intramural and recreation activities.
- Locate Retriever Essentials food pantry in a location with expanded operating hours
Interior modifications and finish upgrades will be undertaken to convert former athletic areas into suitable spaces to support other programs. The design and selection of new building systems will incorporate “green” principles and energy efficiency. Three individual, gender-neutral changing rooms will meet the needs of the campus community.
#RetrieverNation has many, many fond memories of the “old girl.” Hall of Fame rockers Rush opened for Sha-Na-Na in September of 1974. Olympic legend Michael Phelps broke a UMBC Natatorium record in the 100 freestyle in 2004. And, most famously, UMBC earned its first trip to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships when a raucous, sold-out crowd saw the Retrievers defeat Hartford, 82-65, to win the America East title in March of 2008.
The first major renovation occurred during the fall of 1999 when a 52,700-square foot addition with its multi-purpose gymnasium, weight room, auxiliary gymnasium, large lobby, and general locker rooms was added to the existing structure.
The RAC served all varsity student-athletes in addition to the entirety of the UMBC community and numerous outside groups until February of 2018 when The UMBC Event Center opened its doors. Retriever swimmers and divers will continue to compete and practice at the RAC and other student-athletes will utilize the auxiliary gym in bad weather circumstances, but the vast majority of future usage will be for physical education classes, intramurals, recreation and group fitness activities.
“I am extremely excited to see this project take shape,” Wohlstetter said. “The RAC new design has the ability to benefit the university as a whole. Prospective students and families visiting the campus will appreciate having a state-of-the-art recreation facility to utilize to manage stress and stay healthy. The RAC project has great value to the overall enhancement of campus life for all.”