Construction continues at the Pepperdine Fitness Center between Seaside Residence Hall and Eden House. Pepperdine’s Design and Construction team expects the facility to be finished by the end of 2021. Photo by Ryan Brinkman
Though experiencing a construction delay, the new structure between Seaside Residence Hall and Eden House will be complete by the end of 2021. The project should have opened in fall 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the start of construction.
The structure will soon be a new, temporary fitness center, dubbed the “Pepperdine Fitness Center,” and will be twice the size of the Firestone Fieldhouse weight room.
With the proposed student activities and sports arena in Rho parking lot — known as “The Mountain” — still years from completion, the structure will improve student recreation opportunities temporarily, wrote Marie Chu, senior project manager in the Department of Design and Construction, in a Sept. 27 email.
“The project has been delayed, largely by geotechnical issues that we have encountered,” Chu wrote. “We expect this project to be completed by the end of this calendar year.”
Campus Recreation will staff and manage the new facility.
The project includes two structures: a fitness building and a restroom building, each one floor. The fitness space will be 5,000 square feet, while the restroom and locker room building will be around 900 square feet, Chu wrote.
The structure is temporary insofar as it does not sit on a permanent foundation, Director of Campus Recreation Robb Bolton said.
A rendering of the Pepperdine Fitness Center shows a tent-like structure with windows facing Greek Dorm Road. The structure will have air-conditioning and plumbing, Bolton said.
This artist’s rendering shows the front of the Pepperdine Fitness Center structure, which Chief Operating Officer Phil Phillips showed at the Oct. 6 President’s Briefing. The temporary structure will be about 5,000 square feet. Screenshot by Ashley Mowreader
“Our plan is that the structure will be removed and replaced by a new, permanent fitness center as part of The Mountain project,” Chu wrote. “It is vitally important to the wellness of our students to provide them increased and improved recreation space.”
Campus Recreation advocated for a new fitness space prior to President Jim Gash’s appointment, Bolton said. Strength and cardio spaces consist of the Firestone weight room, The Cage near the tennis courts, and satellite resident-only facilities in Towers and Seaside.
Campus Rec employees like Bolton and fitness coach Becca Brackett said the space under Firestone, known colloquially as “the dungeon,” is too small to properly accommodate the number of community members who utilize it.
“It did suck always seeing the awesome facility the athletes got to use and then having to go down into a poorly ventilated basement to do my workouts,” Brackett, a 2021 alumna, wrote in a text message. “I hope the students that get to use it will really appreciate the new space and give it some good use.”
Gash pressed ahead with the new events center project, The Mountain, but also made plans for the new fitness center in the meantime, Bolton said.
The project remains on-budget, Chu wrote.
“The surprise was President Gash finding this interim step which we weren’t expecting,” Bolton said. “Which is a really welcome surprise because we were just thinking, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to wait the time period that’s going to take for this larger project.'”
The new structure will include all brand-new equipment, cardio machines with Bluetooth and streaming capabilities, more free weight stations and open space for students to do core and body-weight exercises. The equipment in Firestone is more than 10 years old, Bolton said.
“I’m very excited for the community — having the larger space, the natural lighting and the windows, all brand-new equipment, new technology,” Bolton said.
The space will also appear more open, with the view overlooking the soccer field and ocean, according to design mockups.
“It’s supposed to be a community, social place as well, and that’s what the new space will allow,” Bolton said.
Campus Rec will no longer use the Firestone Fieldhouse weight room when the new fitness center opens, but there are no plans regarding the fate of the underground room, Bolton said. The group fitness center in the Harilela International Tennis Stadium will remain open, Bolton said.
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