On Sept. 5, Wake Forest University will demonstrate its commitment to wellbeing for the entire campus community by breaking ground on a two-story addition to Reynolds Gym that will provide 46,000 square feet of flexible space for fitness programming and a venue for both academic and social gatherings.
The groundbreaking of the Sutton Center at historic W. N. Reynolds Gymnasium will take place during a daylong celebration of recent leadership gifts to Wake Will: The Campaign for Wake Forest and the kick-off for the University’s comprehensive approach to wellbeing, “Thrive.”
The Sutton Center marks the first of three planned phases to transform the historic W. N. Reynolds Gym into a dynamic hub for campus-wide wellbeing.
Connected to the Northwest corner of Reynolds Gym by a floor-to-ceiling glass atrium, the Sutton Center will be built where the Leighton Tennis Stadium is currently situated and will feature two basketball courts – one on each floor – available for use by Wake Forest students, faculty and staff. The open, adaptable space will also be used for campus events, gatherings and receptions. A landscaped green space will lead to its entrance off Wake Forest Road.
Ben C. Sutton Jr., a Wake Forest graduate with undergraduate (’80) and law (’83) degrees, and his family made the lead gift for the new addition. He is chairman and president of IMG College, the largest college sports marketing and broadcast company in America.
“To meet the challenges of the most competitive and global marketplace in history, we need to invest not only in the finest academic programming, but in healthy lifestyle development. Health and wellbeing are inextricably linked to quality of life and productivity, management of stress and the overall college experience. Our family is pleased that Wake Forest has accepted the challenge of being a national leader in an area of so much importance,” said Sutton.
The Sutton Center is expected to open by the fall semester of 2015.
Phase 2: Renovating historic Reynolds Gym
Ongoing fundraising in 2014 and 2015 will determine when Wake Forest begins the second phase of the Reynolds Gym transformation: renovating the existing building. The current goal to begin construction is in the summer of 2015. On Sept. 5, dramatic new plans will be unveiled for its design.
“By design, the renovations will offer a social gathering space for before or after an activity like rock climbing, swimming or a run or walk on the treadmill,” said Director of Campus Recreation Max Floyd. “The renovations will provide faculty, staff and students with a destination to recoup or refresh before going back to the classroom or workday.”
From a two-level climbing wall to a demonstration kitchen, the building will offer fitness facilities, classrooms and conversational space. An expansive living room, racquetball and squash courts, a juice bar, group exercise rooms, space for yoga and meditation, volleyball courts, a spinning room, fitness equipment, and basketball courts are planned for the renovated area. Enhanced space for Student Health Services will be located on the lower level of the building in its existing location. The pool will be renovated in phase three.
“A healthy mind, body, and spirit are very important to me, so I’m excited about the future of an enhanced space for wellbeing on campus,” said Carter Brewer, a first-year student from Lexington, Ky. “It’s a nice surprise, considering it wasn’t part of my decision-making process when I chose Wake Forest. To know that there are news plans that satisfy so many of my needs – from exercising to decompressing to hanging out – is motivating,” she said.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Wellbeing Suite in Reynolds Gym will house a wellbeing office and space for the soon-to-be-announced director of wellbeing. Earlier this year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina made a $3 million gift to support the transformation of Reynolds Gym, as well as wellbeing programming and related faculty research.
A terraced amphitheater near the Sutton Center between Reynolds Gym and Kentner Stadium will provide a new space for outdoor events.
“Our goal is to create a vital physical center and shared space where people can come to learn and practice new healthy behaviors,” said Rogan Kersh, Wake Forest provost. “A dynamic program requires a dynamic home, and the building will serve the Wake Forest community in many ways while providing an impressive face for a national model of holistic wellbeing.”
Built in 1955, W. N. Reynolds Gymnasium is one of the original buildings on Wake Forest’s Reynolda Campus. Once the addition is complete, Reynolds Gym, totaling more than 188,000 square feet, will become the second largest building on campus. The largest is Z. Smith Reynolds Library, at more than 204,000.