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Davis, California

Thursday, May 30, 2024

ARC expansion set to be complete after Spring Break

New 20,000 square foot space opens March 27

It’s almost done. Gym-goers have been teased for months by fresh squat racks and state of the art olympic weightlifting platforms that could be seen through the windows but couldn’t be accessed when walking between the pavilion and the ARC to get to the La Rue entrance.

The $15.8 million construction project, funded from reserves and bonds, was slated for completion back in January, but a confluence of factors delayed the project, according to UC Davis Campus Recreation and Unions Director of Recreation Deb Johnson.

Mother Nature halted construction for a period in November after smoke from the Camp Fire blanketed Davis. In December, many of the contractors and laborers working the project took some vacation time, which is typical of construction projects. Add to that required inspections with the added challenge of expanding from the core of the building to add the necessary electrical components for future equipment needs. The Boldt Company has finished renovating and adding around 20,000 square feet to the newly-designed ARC which will open for use on March 27.

This won’t be the very end of renovation, however, as the ARC will also close its four-court basketball gym starting March 25 for re-flooring. This additional project is set to be done some time in April.

Johnson gave The Aggie a tour of the new space near the end of its construction phase in early March. Some equipment was there, like the newly designed weightlifting platforms innovated by Matrix Fitness and Eleiko, which will be incorporated into 15 Matrix squat racks and six standalones.

Eleiko makes platforms designed to dampen the noise when dropping weights. Johnson says that in most college gym’s across the country, you aren’t allowed to drop your weights due to noise and damage.

“I asked Matrix to partner with Eleiko,” Johnson said, noting that this is the first time two companies in the equipment industry have collaborated for a project. “For the first time ever, we’ve got two companies working together.”

Users will now be allowed to drop their weights when using this equipment without worrying about damage or excessive noise. Still, this on it’s own does little to address one of the community’s most common complaints, which is that the wait for the squat racks during peak hours is too long.

“It’s really frustrating especially when you have to get somewhere,” said third-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Jessica Wong.

While waiting in line to use a squat rack, Wong explained that at times she has had to end her workout earlier than planned to get ready for class.

Johnson says one of the overarching goals of the expansion was to reduce work out waiting times.

ARC employees and fourth year students, Erica Rubio and Claudio Carillo, explained how staff currently deal with the overcrowded gym floor.

“When the line get super long and goes all the way out the door, it’s stressful to us because we have that pressure,” Carillo said, calling attention to the fact that staff try to encourage people to work in pairs to help the line move faster.

This strategy works for some people, but for others, they just want to work independently said Carillo.

“At the end of day, some people actually make friends,” Carillo said. “That’s nice to see.”

“It’s not healthy to stand in line, your body and muscles get cold,” Johnson said. “Our patrons are unique here, they’re waiting to wait in line for a long time for a rack and willing to stay in that rack for kind of as long as they want to.”

Johnson says that when gathering feedback from gym users, squat racks, benches, more cardio machines and natural lighting topped the wish list.

With a combination of LED daylight harvesting lights and ceiling fans, the workout spaces throughout the gym will add a refreshed feeling.

In addition, crossfit enthusiasts can expect a new station stocked with supplies like TRX bands and a jungle gym.

Anyone who felt left out because they train in the strongman style will find a new outdoor area that can accomodate this basic yet punishing and body-taxing activity of carrying atlas stones, pulling sleds and flipping tires. But until the outdoor temperature allows the surface to be laid properly, strongman enthusiasts will have to wait until later in Spring Quarter

The project has been nearly two years in the making, from gaining approval from former Chancellor Linda Katehi to then getting the green light and beginning construction under then-Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexler.

This expansion is just one part of UC Davis’ many growth initiatives. A West Village expansion that will add approximately 3,300 beds is expected to be fully completed in 2021. Nishi would add 2,200 beds, and Lincoln40 adds 130 units with two to five bedrooms per unit. The UC Davis Long Range Development Plan aims to house 18,600 students on campus by 2030, which represents a 9,050 increase in students currently housed on campus. While this ARC expansion may free up some traffic on the gym floor and adds new fitness features, the housing and following student body expansion will test its capacity.

The ARC will close from March 25 to 26 to move the equipment and will reopen the main entrance March 27.

Written by: Bobby John — sports@theaggie.org


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