The renovations within Memorial Hall are transitioning into phase two over winter break, marking the halfway point until completion.
A project around five years in the making, the renovations at Memorial Hall will fully remodel the interior of the building. Financed by the New York State University Construction Fund, it was once intended to be a four-phase project. SUNY Plattsburgh faculty, along with contractors and the architects at HOLT Architects, whittled it down to two phases, both lasting roughly 18 months.
When students return for the spring semester at the end of January, they can expect a change when returning to Memorial Hall.
“The front doors will be open,” Director of Athletics and Recreation Mike Howard said.
“The lobby and lounge will be ready for students to meet together, or plug in their laptops and work in a casual environment.”
Fitness Center Director Matt Salvatore said that prioritizing the needs of current and future students and staff was a main focus when planning for the new layout. The pool and racquetball courts were chosen to be removed amongst complaints from the community, a decision made by reviewing the dwindling numbers of people reserving time slots over the years.
“We see more of the community using it than staff and students. Community members have other options like the YMCA, and we wanted to focus on what will best fill the campus’ needs,” Howard said.
Plattsburgh is one of the few SUNY colleges that doesn’t have a strength and conditioning gym for their athletes. That will be a main feature when completed, along with a new climbing wall and recreational multipurpose gym.
The new rec gym and athlete strength training gym will be complete by the end of phase one, but will be used as a temporary space for the fitness center.
“While the final fitness center will be almost double the size of what it is now, we need to temporarily house the equipment and machines in the new rec and athlete gym,” Salvatore said. “This will still be a new space for students to check out in the spring, but keep in mind it’s not the final layout.”
Salvatore gives a look into what to expect once construction is complete, aiming for “a total modernization.” Virtual images by HOLT show a sleek space with tall windows reflecting white walls with accents of Cardinal red.
The HOLT Architecture team said that, “while Memorial Hall had received some upgrades over the years, very little had changed to the building since its initial construction in 1962.”
This includes updating plumbing and electrical, adding to the timeline of completion.
The fourth floor of Beaumont Hall is a temporary home to many staff members of athletics and recreation. Howard refers to it as his “satellite office,” and that he spends time out of every day to visit the Field House and Memorial Hall.
“I’m expecting to be here another two years,” Howard said. “But once it’s complete, it really will be a central space on campus. Athletics have a way of bringing people together. Most of us played sports when we were kids and support teams now.”
Howard said that since he began at SUNY Plattsburgh five years ago, his title of Director of Athletics changed to add recreation into it.
“It’s much broader than athletics. With my job, recreation is equally important. I’m a big proponent of physical fitness, for mental and physical health. This project really provides an opportunity for everyone to find something they enjoy that will sustain that mental and physical health,” Howard said.
As construction continues, Plattsburgh’s athletic and recreational faculty hope students will utilize the new space available in Memorial Hall and “stay tuned” for future updates.