Rensselaer Breaks Ground for East Campus Athletic Village; First Phase to be Completed by Fall 2009

August 31, 2007

Rensselaer Breaks Ground for East Campus Athletic Village; First Phase to be Completed by Fall 2009

(Updated September 4, 2007)
East Campus Athletic Village
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hosted the official groundbreaking ceremony to launch the first phase of the $114 million East Campus Athletic Village – the most extensive athletic construction project in the Institute’s history. Pictured here (from left to right): Myles Brand ’64, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and a Rensselaer trustee; Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson; Samuel Heffner ’56, chairman of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees; Erik Swanson, president of the Rensselaer Union; and Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life. The event was held on Aug. 26 on the Upper Renwyck, site of the new East Campus Athletic Village. Photo credit: Rensselaer/Kris Qua.

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has broken ground to launch the first phase of the $114 million East Campus Athletic Village. The most extensive athletic construction project in the Institute’s history, the new athletic village will improve dramatically campus athletic facilities, expand athletic opportunities, and enhance the overall student experience at Rensselaer.

The project will involve two phases. Phase 1 will include a stadium, an arena, and enhancements to the Houston Field House.

The stadium will include:

  • 4,800 seats
  • Synthetic turf field
  • Locker rooms
  • Weight training facilities
  • Sports medicine facilities
  • Coaches’ offices
  • VIP box
  • Press box
  • Concession area

The arena will include:

  • Two gymnasia
  • Seating for 1,200 for basketball and 2,000 for special events
  • Multipurpose space
  • Athletic hall of fame
  • Administrative space (coaches and athletics administration)
  • Atrium, lobby, cafe, and pro shop.

The Houston Field House improvements will include:

  • Enhancement and expansion of the locker rooms
  • Additional coaches’ space
  • New training facilities
  • VIP box
  • Press box

Phase 2 will feature an indoor pool, outdoor tennis courts, and an indoor sports facility complete with a track and tennis courts.

“As we continue to build a fully realized university, and educate the next generation of leaders, it is our intent to develop the mind, body, and spirit – the whole person,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Combined with other new ‘playing fields’ at Rensselaer, such as the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the East Campus Athletic Village will allow our students to think, to learn, and to play in innovative ways so they can succeed in a world where the pace of change is measured in nanoseconds.”

Construction for Phase 1 will begin this month, and will be completed by Fall 2009 in time for the athletic season. The cost for Phase 1, including the Houston Field House work, will be $78 million, while the projected estimate for Phase 2 is $35 to $45 million. The time frame for Phase 2 is still being developed.

The ceremony featured remarks from President Jackson; Samuel Heffner ’56, chairman of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees; Myles Brand ’64, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a Rensselaer trustee;  Erik Swanson, president of the Rensselaer Union; and Eddie Ade Knowles, vice president for student life. 

In welcoming the audience of Rensselaer students, alumni, faculty, staff, coaches, family and friends, and members of the surrounding community, Knowles noted that the “groundbreaking really began eight years ago when, under President Jackson’s leadership, we developed The Rensselaer Plan, our blueprint for the future. In the plan we promised — indeed — said ‘we will’ enhance the student experience on campus.”

“With the support of our $1.4 billion capital campaign, we have done a great deal to transform the student experience – making Rensselaer a supportive environment with new informal gathering places, a new residence hall, refurbished residences, new landscaping, and new state-of-the-art research facilities,” Knowles said.

The new athletic village is a core component of The Rensselaer Plan. The facilities will meet the needs and expectations of current students – more than 75 percent of whom participate in intramurals, club sports, or varsity team sports – and prospective student-athletes.

Brand noted that the “playing field teaches great life lessons – chief among them – personal commitment to excellence and the discipline needed to live up to that commitment each and every day.”

“As we learn these lessons, we build character — so sorely needed if we are to become a great team player,” Brand continued.  “For teams, as you know, are made up of individual performers — who excel in their own right and are willing to complement the skills of others. As college students, you work in teams in the classroom, in the laboratory, in your residence halls, in your fraternities and sororities, in the great new research facilities here on campus, and in your sports programs — all of which I consider the playing fields of Rensselaer.”

“It is on these fields and through teamwork that you experience the camaraderie of equals and the special joy of sharing success with others,” Brand said.

“The East Campus Athletic Village will not only provide us with a tangible appreciation for the school, but will also bring us to a new level of comity,” said Erik Swanson, president of the Union. “As students, we should be challenged to take the opportunities that the new Athletic Village will provide to help build our community. From attending sporting events with our friends, to packing the stadium full for a schoolwide performance, many opportunities will present themselves for us to make new friends and strengthen our relationships.”

In addressing the audience, Chairman Heffner shared some of his memories as a student at Rensselaer, noting various campus buildings and the mindset of the students at the time.

“When I came to Rensselaer, freshmen had to wear beanies on their heads, and the campus was still feeling the effects of the great rush of World War II veterans – our Greatest Generation, eager to roll up their sleeves and build their lives and this nation,” he said. “In those days, the newest building on campus was the Houston Field House; right behind the Field House was the Rendael dormitory complex, the infamous Tin Town, and next to them, the apartments of Rensselaerwyck, or The Wyck, as it was known, served as housing for our married veteran students and their new and growing families.”

“So these are some memories of the old days here on the East Campus, and today, on behalf of those of us who remember them, we thank all who have stepped forward to build a new community here in the East Campus Athletic Village. It has been a long time coming,” he added.

The companies involved in the overall design and construction of the facilities are Sasaki Architects and Whiting-Turner Construction. All athletic village venues will be built and renovated in accordance with NCAA, clearing the way for Rensselaer to host additional NCAA tournaments. The facilities also will position Rensselaer as a prime location for regional and national high school championships, increasing visibility and, ultimately, applications and enrollment.

The athletic village also offers an opportunity for Rensselaer to demonstrate once again its commitment to the community. Phase 1 site work will include a new drainage system that will reduce storm water flow in the adjacent neighborhood. New energy-efficient and targeted lighting systems will prevent glare from disturbing nearby residents. Traffic and safety enhancements — including the closing of Georgian Terrace — will ease congestion and improve safety for pedestrians. In addition, a shuttle service will support energy conservation efforts and help reduce traffic.

Contact: Jessica Otitigbe
Phone: (518) 276-6050


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