Plans for new athletic facilities set in motion

Are Carnegie Mellon’s athletic facilities large enough? Are they cohesive enough? Does Carnegie Mellon need an indoor track, indoor tennis courts, or more seating for spectators of athletic events? Do Gesling Stadium, Skibo Gymnasium, and the athletic facilities within the University Center leave you with an impression of grandeur or of squalor? These are the types of questions the executives of Hastings & Chivetta Architects, Inc. asked Carnegie Mellon students and staff in an attempt to help assess the outdoor and indoor recreation and fitness facilities at Carnegie Mellon.

Hastings & Chivetta (H&C) is a company of architects, planners, and interior designers that provide a full range of architectural services to institutional, educational, municipal, and corporate clients. Currently, H&C is helping Carnegie Mellon develop a master plan and a future direction for athletics, health, and wellness, which could involve constructing a brand new athletic and fitness center on campus within the next five to seven years.

H&C was at Carnegie Mellon all last week meeting with focus groups. They gave presentations on the process and components of designing and building a new facility. At the same time, H&C gathered first-hand information from students and staff. H&C’s visit was capped off by a town meeting open to the Carnegie Mellon community, held last Thursday.

Principal-in-charge Chris Chivetta and design principal Erik Kocher went into detail in their presentations on everything that needs to be considered throughout the process of building a new facility. There are site-design and planning issues ranging from embracing Carnegie Mellon’s master plan to creating excitement, awareness, and participation in athletics. The new facility could include a lobby and control desk, a 200-meter indoor track, indoor tennis courts, classrooms, and a climbing wall.

Chivetta and Kocher talked about the impressions they had of the University’s athletic and fitness facilities, with both commenting on how the facilities made no lasting impression and did not invite entry. The facilities also have small lobbies, no social space, minimal natural day lighting, and no flow or circulation due to the facilities being separated. Our facilities also lack a place to display past trophies and athletic accomplishments of our programs. When asked of his impression, Kocher replied that, given our stature, he was “surprised by your facilities from an athletic standpoint.”

Much is still up in the air in this part of the planning process, such as a location, a timetable, and the funding needed. Possible locations include, and are not limited to, renovations to Skibo, the intramural field, the Morewood parking lot, the tennis courts, or the Cut, with the latter two locations possibly being underground.

H&C, which has completed projects at such schools as Rhodes College, Chatham College, Marietta College, and Georgia Tech, will be returning to campus in early April, and is hoping to be able to present Carnegie Mellon with a final report by next September.