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Wyoming Firm Will Renovate, Expand Half Acre Gym

September 7, 2012
Students climbing
UW students enjoy the climbing wall in Half Acre Gym. The UW Board of Trustees approved a contract for a major renovation and expansion of the facility originally built in 1925. It will be renamed the Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center. (UW Photo)

A Wyoming firm has been selected to transform the University of Wyoming’s Half Acre Gym into a modern student recreation and wellness center.

The UW Board of Trustees voted Friday to contract with Groathouse Construction of Laramie for the major renovation and expansion of the facility originally built in 1925. It will be renamed the Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center.

The $27 million construction project is scheduled to begin in spring 2013, with completion in fall 2014. The Wyoming State Legislature appropriated $15 million for the work, and $12 million in bond sale proceeds will be repaid by student fees. The Associated Students of UW backed the fee increase and lobbied the Legislature in support of the project.

Plans call for remodeling the existing 99,300-square-foot building and adding about 35,500 square feet. Among the planned improvements are academic spaces; an updated theater and dance studio; four new racquetball courts with glass back walls for observation and instruction; expanded Outdoor Program space with a 35-foot-tall pinnacle wall; expanded cardiovascular exercise and weight training areas; new locker rooms; and, in addition to the traditional wood-floor court of Half Acre, a new multi-activity court gymnasium.

Half Acre is home to the Campus Recreation Department , which includes club and intramural sports, group fitness, aquatics and the Outdoor Program. The facility, which hosts academic courses in areas such as kinesiology and health, and theater and dance, is used regularly by a variety of on- and off-campus departments and groups.

The architect/engineering firm of Tobin & Associates of Cheyenne, in association with Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative of Denver, will design the improvements.

Also Friday, the Board of Trustees authorized a contract with Dale Buckingham Architects of Sheridan to serve as architect and engineer for planned improvements to UW’s Biological Sciences Building. The estimated $10 million project, to be funded with major maintenance dollars and federal mineral royalties, will include replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

In addition, the trustees voted to accept the transfer of buildings owned by the federal government to UW at the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab site and the Laramie Research and Extension Center. The six buildings, which are on land owned by the university, are no longer being used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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