first_imgShareCONTACT: B.J. AlmondPHONE: 713-348-6770E-MAIL: [email protected] breaks ground for a new multipurpose Recreation and Wellness CenterRice University broke ground today for a $41 million Recreation and Wellness Center that will offer students, faculty and staff state-of-the-art workout and health facilities for everything from competitive swimming and billiards to nutritional counseling and meditative classroom space. Project manager Joe Buchanan said the building will feature several distinctive design elements: Long Description Donors and dignitaries waved flags to signal the start of the recreation center construction. Long Description The two-story, 103,000-square-foot building will house two indoor basketball courts, four racquetball courts, two squash courts, a 50-meter outdoor competition pool, a 2,500-square-foot recreation pool, cardio-fitness equipment, weights, a dance studio, billiards, table tennis, two outdoor lighted basketball courts, locker rooms and a ”wellness” courtyard. Scheduled to open in August 2009, it will also serve as the new home of the Rice Wellness Center.“Rice students have always studied hard, and now they will have a wonderful new facility where they can play just as hard,” President David Leebron said. “We know that a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand, and this facility can accommodate almost everyone’s needs and interests. It will become yet another place, along with our new Brochstein Pavilion, where we can come together for informal activities and interaction.”Rice will hold a grand opening later this week for the pavilion, a glassed-in café located on the west side of Fondren Library in the university’s Central Quadrangle. Both facilities are part of a major construction initiative at Rice as the university prepares to increase its student body and raise its profile as a premier international research university under Leebron’s 10-point Vision for the Second Century. The Recreation and Wellness Center will be funded solely through philanthropy. “We are particularly grateful to David and Barbara Gibbs for making the lead gift for this historic project,” Leebron said. “We also want to thank Ralph O’Connor and Carl Isgren for their generous gifts.”David and Barbara Gibbs are both alumni of Rice. David received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering — both in 1971. Barbara received a B.A. in Spanish in 1973.  She went on to earn an M.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1977.  David is now president of David K. Gibbs Associates, a real estate agency that he established in 1978.                     JEFF FITLOW Donor Barbara Gibbs presents President Leebron with the first of many palm trees that will flank the new recreation center. Ralph O’Connor served as a term governor at Rice from 1967 to 1976 and then as a trustee from 1976 to 1988.  He returned as a trustee from 1994 until 1996, when he became a trustee emeritus. He received a B.A. in biology from Johns Hopkins University in 1951 and completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 1967.  He is founder and CEO of the investment firm Ralph S. O’Connor & Associates, which he established in 1987.Carl Isgren is a Rice alum and a trustee. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and economics from Rice in 1961. He was elected to the board in 2004. Isgren retired in 1997 as president and CEO of Owen Healthcare Inc. after negotiating the merger of Owen and Cardinal Healthcare. Under his leadership, Owen became the leading provider of hospital pharmacy management services in the U.S.The new rec center will be located at the northwest corner of Alumni Drive and Laboratory Road, kitty-corner from the Student Center and adjacent to the north campus recreational fields. As it did with other major construction projects on campus, Rice relocated several mature elm and oak trees to make room for the building without reducing the campus’s famous tree population.The Athletics Department will manage the center. “Nearly every Rice student participates in sports of some kind, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they will be thrilled with all of the options available in the new Recreation and Wellness Center,” Del Conte said. “This facility will add another great dimension to the total Rice experience for students, as well as for faculty and staff.”  JEFF FITLOW Donor David Gibbs speaks to a crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rice Recreation and Wellness Center.He was joined on stage by, from left, Student Association President Matt Youn, Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jim Crownover, David Gibbs, donor Barbara Gibbs, Rice President David Leebron, donor Ralph O’Connor and Graduate Student Association President Michael Contreras.  TOMMY LAVERGNE AddThis Long Description About adminlast_img