The renovated sports center will be light-filled and devoted to wellness

The renovated sports center will be light-filled and devoted to wellness

From The Rubble

Sports Center renovation rises on the horizon.

Katie Pelletier ’03 | July 19, 2022

In mid-February 2021, Portland was hit by a powerful winter storm that dumped six inches of snow and ice throughout the metro area. The storm felled trees, caused power losses, and demolished several buildings in the Portland area—including the roof over Gym I and Gym II in Reed’s Watzek Sports Center. Thanks to the building’s alarm system and quick staff response, no one was hurt, but both gyms were a complete loss. Since then, the area has been closed off. 

But the gyms will be rebuilt, and the areas that once housed kickboxing, fencing, juggling, the infamous alumni vs. student basketball games, and other activities will be ready for action soon. Plans are close to being finalized, and reconstruction is expected to commence in early spring of next year.

The renovation will bring updates to the entire sports center. Built in 1965, the Watzek Sports Center replaced the original Gothic Tudor–style gym that had been constructed in 1913. It has seen several updates including replacement of the squash courts in honor of Jack Scrivens [physical education 1961–99] (with donations by alumni) and a major renovation to add an outdoor education center, with support from Reed Trustee Tim Boyle

This renovation will bring a modest change in square footage—about 1,000 square feet—but will turn the space into a more welcoming and inclusive community center.

“The concept is that the sports center is not merely a place for fitness, but a wellness center,” says Steve Yeadon, director of facilities operations. Conceptually, the design of the building will take a note from the Performing Arts Building. “It will be more open,” he says. “You’ll be able to see into spaces so that the rooms feel integrated.”

A large eastern-facing window in the new multiuse gym will look out onto a courtyard that can be used for outdoor yoga or tai chi classes. The south building entrance adjacent to the courtyard will be more inviting, and the check-in and equipment rental area will move from the Botsford Drive entrance to the remodeled south entrance vestibule. The hallway running through the center of the building will add an area for lounging and table tennis. 

Many changes will make the sports center more includsive and ADA accessible; one notable improvement is that its square footage will be dispersed across three floors rather than four. Locker rooms will be remodeled to create more privacy, and an all-user locker room will be added that, like the women’s and men’s locker rooms, will have pool access. 

As for the gyms, the new iterations of Gym I and Gym II will bring many updates. The basketball court will have run-off space and windows placed in a sawtooth configuration will let in more daylight without the blinding effects of direct lights from outdoors. Gym II will be outfitted with additional storage space for the many activities hosted in this multipurpose space. 

Despite a volatile market for construction materials, Yeadon is confident that the sports center renovation will be complete by the fall of 2024. The college has developed a funding plan for the project. With escalating prices, philanthropic support is welcomed and will allow us to include all aspects of the project’s design.


Tags: Campus Life, Health/Wellness, Institutional, Sports & Adventures