The Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. next Tuesday, bringing 44,659 square feet of space dedicated to the wellness of the Bowdoin community to the center of campus.

The Buck Center will allow "an opportunity for members of the community to pursue their health and fitness ambitions," said Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster.

The fitness center will occupy the ground level and first floor of the building, the second floor will house the athletic department offices and a multipurpose space capable of seating 40 people, and Student Health Services and flexible multipurpose spaces will be located on the third floor.

Despite the poor state of the economy throughout the duration of the project, the College has been able to finish construction on schedule and at the initial estimated cost.

The $15.5 million cost of the project "was completely paid for by gifts received through The Bowdoin Campaign," the fundraising campaign that brought a total of $293 million to the College, Senior Vice President for Planning and Development Bill Torrey wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.

Peter Buck '52, a nuclear physicist, philanthropist and co-founder of the Subway chain of sandwich restaurants, made the lead gift. The new facility is named for him.

From Coe to Buck

Though the fitness facilities and Athletic department offices will be open on Tuesday, the new Health Center on the third floor will not begin seeing students until Friday, September 25, at 1 p.m.

The Health Center's move from Dudley Coe has been logistically complicated by the outbreak of the H1N1 virus on campus, and it was decided yesterday to speed up the relocation timetable from four days to overnight.

Next Thursday, students may still receive care for acute medical issues at Dudley Coe until closing, though ill students quarantined in the building will be relocated to the third floor of Buck during the early afternoon.

At 5 p.m., Dudley Coe will close to allow the Health Center to move. From 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 24, to 1 p.m. on Friday, September 25, students requiring medical attention are advised to "contact Security for transportation to the Parkview Hospital Emergency Room," according to an e-mail sent out late yesterday afternoon by Foster.

Meeting a need

According to Foster, when the Watson Fitness Center opened in Smith Union in 1995, "it was within days too small to serve the needs of the campus community."

The fitness center on the ground level and first floor of Buck Center aims to alleviate that problem by nearly doubling the number of cardio machines than are in Watson, and reserving large spaces for weight training.

According to the College's Web site, "the fitness floors will house an anticipated 51 pieces of cardio equipment," and will include spaces for free weights, weight machines, and rowing machines. Though new equipment has been purchased for the facility, much of the cardio equipment is being brought in from Watson.

Of the new facility, sophomore Emily Shoemaker said, "I think it was really necessary just because of the present facility; when I work out in the afternoon I always have to wait for the machines."

The fitness offerings will also include an approximately 40-foot indoor rock-climbing wall with bouldering and belaying sections, spaces for stretching, and spaces for exercising in relative privacy. A multipurpose room on the third floor will provide space for fitness and wellness classes and programs, including aerobics, spinning, yoga, Pilates, tai chi, qigong, meditation, and dance.

Updating the Health Center

When the Health Center opens in the Buck Center next Friday, Bowdoin students will find the facility to be much more modern and less institutional than Dudley Coe, said Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Margaret Hazlett.

The Health Center in Dudley Coe has "been needing upgrades for years," she said. "So I think, frankly, just for morale of staff and for students going into this space—it's just brighter, lighter."

Though the services and hours of the Health Center will not change, staff will have offices separate from the exam rooms, a feature that Dudley Coe lacked.

Hazlett said this absence presented "HIPAA compliance, privacy issues," and could be "a little problematic if you've got your computer on, and a file on your desk, and a student in your office."

The new Health Center space will include a waiting room in addition to the exam rooms and offices, according to the College's Web site.

Getting well

With multipurpose spaces on the third floor of the Buck Center reserved for swine flu quarantine, the timetable for wellness offerings at the center remains uncertain.

Dr. Bernie Hershberger, the director of counseling services on campus, wrote in an e-mail that he, along with Foster and President Barry Mills, have been envisioning plans for a wellness center on campus for approximately three years.

Currently, the Counseling Center coordinates wellness classes. Beginning Monday, September 28, 12 to 14 yoga classes, two tai chi classes, one Qigong class, and two to three meditation classes will be available each week on campus. Hershberger wrote that the location of the classes would be announced next week, as the center identifies available spaces on campus.

The third-floor space in the Buck Center envisioned for wellness offerings will be used for quarantining ill students until November 1, and "possibly beyond that date if there is still a need for a large isolation area," Hershberger added.

Down the road, Hershberger wrote that the College plans to add a coordinator to manage wellness programming and develop a Web site.

According to Hershberger, last spring the Counseling Center administered an electronic survey querying students about wellness programs they would like to see offered. After reviewing the data collected from a response pool comprised of nearly 70 percent of the student body, they have begun to structure a program to fit students' expressed wellness interests.

Though Hershberger wrote that students expressed interest in acupuncture and massage, these services have been postponed in light of the economic downturn, but "will hopefully be offered in the not too distant future."

Bringing the campus together

Foster observed that the choice of a central campus location for the Buck Center reflects the value the College places in community building.

Cambridge Seven Associates, the architecture firm that designed the Buck Center, and also built Kanbar Hall and renovated Searles Science Building, envisioned the space as "a lantern of light and activity that people are drawn to," said Foster.

"Given our sense of community, and given the long winter months, of having this sort of beehive of activity in the center of campus, where you have students, faculty, and staff coming together and interacting around activity, is just a great thing."

Director of Athletics Jeff Ward said that his department was looking forward to sharing space with the other occupants of the Buck Center, and could already envision ways to utilize the facility's varied offerings.

"I think of wellness and fitness as being on a continuum. So I think proximity allows us to build on that," he said. "For example, I've got a lot of teams interested in being able to do yoga out of season, for both the personal and athletic benefits."

Revamping Watson, Dudley Coe

The relocation of both the campus fitness center and health center leaves two spaces on campus open for new uses. Watson Fitness Center will transition into a student lounge, with game tables and spaces to study and relax. The space in Dudley Coe formerly reserved for health services will be used as the headquarters for the College's Upward Bound program, as well as various offices for Academic and Student Affairs staff members.

Director of Student Life Allen Delong explained that the long-term plan is to transform the Watson space into a comprehensive bookstore for the College. With the plans to make that move not yet finalized and at least three years away, it was decided to make the space an additional place on campus for students to gather.

A small group of students, representing different groups such as WBOR and Bowdoin Student Government, helped Delong envision the space that he hopes to open in approximately one month. He said that it was important to keep costs for this project to a minimum and that "most of what's going into that room is coming from someplace else."

The free-weight side of Watson will become the "loud" side—pool tables, ping-pong, foosball, televisions, and a sound system will be available for student use.

The cardio side will become the "quiet" side, with multiple groupings of tables and chairs suitable for studying and relaxed hanging out. Also on that side will be a storage space where student groups can keep their equipment.

"Students did say that they wanted a place where they could just drop in, have a cup of coffee, meet with friends, maybe have study groups," Delong said.

Palmer Higgins '10 agreed that "a low key area to study" would be nice, "because a lot of the time the area outside the Pub is filled up."

Of the so-called "quiet" side of the Watson space, Delong joked, "there is not going to be a hall monitor."