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October 10, 2012

Purdue to dedicate France A. Córdova Rec Sports Center

Howard Taylor at France Cordova Rec Center

Howard Taylor, director of recreational sports, stands within Purdue's France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center. The newly opened center, a student-driven renovation and expansion, offers an open interior with sight lines in three dimensions and much natural light to go with greatly increased exercise and play options. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University on Friday (Oct. 12) will dedicate the France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center, a student-requested $98 million renovation and expansion of the nation's first general recreation center at a university.

The center is named for the university's president who served from July 2007 to July 2012, and who encouraged students to pursue their interest in the project and helped make the case for it to the state and Purdue trustees. Trustees approved the project in June 2008. A student fee approved by students is meeting the cost.

"Dr. Córdova steadfastly placed student success at the top of her priorities as president of Purdue, and this center will enhance opportunities for exercise, wellness and social connection," said acting President Timothy D. Sands. "No initiative more fully exemplifies her commitment to students than this, both in their participation in shaping the project and in the benefits it will bring. We are proud to name it the Córdova Recreational Sports Center."

The dedication ceremony is by invitation only. However, the building is currently open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and visitors may go to the Member Services counter at the center of the atrium to start a guided tour or unguided look around.

The modernized center, which had a "soft opening" Tuesday (Oct. 9), provides substantial natural light, plentiful interior sight lines in three dimensions, and spaces for many types of gatherings and health-related resources in addition to much more activity space. The building is almost 50 percent bigger than before.

The original center, which opened in 1957 with 148,700 square feet, was the first university building in the United States created solely to serve students' recreational sports needs. Among several updates through the years, an addition in 1981 added 62,500 square feet. The newly completed expansion, for which construction began in spring 2010, has brought the size to about 355,000 square feet.

"I'm elated to see this student dream fulfilled, and deeply honored by the naming," Córdova said. "This remarkable center is a tribute to the students' imagination, leadership and diligence. The recreation center is a shining component of the Student Success Corridor taking shape along Third Street, which will provide a multitude of ways for students to find paths to success at Purdue and beyond."

Many of the large residence halls are within a few blocks of the recreation center to the northeast and south. Immediately west of the Córdova Recreational Sports Center are the Boilermaker Aquatic Center and the Turf Recreation Exercise Center, as well as intramural fields. To the east, construction has begun on the Center for Student Excellence and Leadership, perhaps the centerpiece of Córdova's corridor concept, and new housing on Vawter Field.

The recreation center, besides adding space and equipment, brings some striking changes in concept. For one, the east and west entrances are connected by a large atrium open to everyone. The atrium offers healthy snacks and access to health and wellness services, some of which are being staffed by other units at Purdue on a collaborative basis.

"The atrium embodies the idea of a campus center, a place to meet and enjoy and learn, whether or not that involves a workout," says Howard Taylor, director of recreational sports since 2005. "The student input process has been a pleasure, and their ideas show up throughout the center."

Cordova said that all students are indebted to Director Taylor and his staff for their hard work over the past few years in conceptualizing and realizing this facility. She said, "The staff and students turned this dream into a stunning reality. Our state legislators were keenly interested in this project and committed to seeing it through."

Various points in the atrium also provide views of new features such as a climbing wall, bouldering wall, recreation pool, and a gold and black gym reminiscent of Mackey Arena. Also, there can be direct access between the atrium's mezzanine and the spectator area of the aquatic center.

Above the atrium, on Level 3, a one-eighth-mile, three-lane running track offers views out of the large windows on the east and west sides - and a track surface that Taylor says will have one of the most shock-absorbing surfaces available for tracks. Level 4 has a one-tenth-mile track adjacent to an exclusive faculty-staff fitness area, though faculty and staff are free to use all parts of the building.

Others among the large number of new and updated features:

* The recreation pool has an area for water basketball or volleyball, plus a 25-person spa and a play area.

* More than 500 pieces of strength and cardiovascular equipment, up from about 200. Adding such equipment was the No. 1 request, Taylor says.

* Some of that equipment will be in the new built-out spaces with large windows facing streets.

* The large windows have UV-E protection and "fretting" dots to moderate sun exposure.

* Overall, more than 50 percent more lockers in locker rooms, which have private showers.

* Climbing wall (hours supervised) and bouldering wall (always open).

* Staff members present from WorkLife Programs, the Department of Health and Kinesiology, and the Purdue Student Health Center (PUSH).

Full-time students at the campus are automatically members of the center. Other students, as well as faculty and staff, can purchase memberships including family memberships. There also are provisions for memberships by official retirees and alumni, and there are daily fee policies.

Writer: Dan Howell, 765-494-2028, dhowell@purdue.edu

Source: Howard Taylor, 765-494-3114, hhtaylor@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: The dedication ceremony is at 3 p.m. Friday (Oct. 12) at the center.