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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

Macalester College Opens its New Athletic and Wellness Complex
The 175,000 Square-Foot Leonard Center will Serve Entire Campus

St. Paul, Minn.Oct. 2, 2008 - Macalester College's most ambitious effort to promote athletics, health and wellness on campus has been realized in its new athletic and wellness complex, the Leonard Center.  The Leonard Center dedication is 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, in front of the Leonard Center, 125 Snelling Avenue, St. Paul, Minn., Shaw Field side (facing the campus).  The date stone and time capsule will also be installed.

The facility is home to the Athletic Department and Health and Wellness Services and is designed to meet the immediate and growing needs of students and the campus community.

"Athletic and recreation facilities are one of the points on campus that define the sort of community a college wants to be,"  Macalester President Brian Rosenberg said.  "And the Leonard Center, like Macalester, is exceptional."

About 70 percent of Macalester students report working out at least twice a week, and an increasing number of students are interested in general health and wellness. Relatively few women played sports when the previous gym was built 80 years ago and the field house 50 years ago. Now, about 20 percent of all students compete in one of the college's 21 varsity sports.

As students and staff become more familiar with the facility, Vice President of Student Affairs Laurie Hamre expects that they will develop innovative programming and events that wouldn't have been possible in the old space. "We don't just think of this as a space for athletics," said Hamre. "We think of this as a community center. We want it to be welcoming to everyone."

The 175,000 square-foot facility features a natatorium with an off-deck viewing area, a field house with a 200-meter track, and a gymnasium that seats 1,200 and meets the necessary guidelines to host regional and even national competitions. A fitness area with cardio machines and weights, two racquetball courts, and two multipurpose studios round out the athletic and recreation spaces.

The building is also the new home of Health and Wellness Services, which serves students in need of health, counseling, and other services and which develops programming designed to promote healthy lifestyles. Collaboration between its staff and that of the Athletic Department will make possible new kinds of activities.

A prime example of the crossover between health and physical fitness is the new wellness lab, where students can measure and analyze their overall fitness, get information on diet and nutrition, and receive professional assistance on creating a training regimen.

In addition to its recreation spaces, the facility integrates gathering areas and a small snack bar.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this project is the integration of health services, wellness, and health promotion opportunities," said Athletic Director Kim Chandler. "The new facility will be a significant opportunity to serve a broader campus community."


The Leonard Center has a distinctly Macalester flavor. The field house, for example, has a 13-panel mosaic made up of 33,500 Macalester images that, from a distance, look like the flags of the 128 countries of the school's students and alumni.    

In the lobby, eight-foot by five-foot banners with photos of the campus, students, and professors hang from the trusses. The atrium and the bathrooms feature Italian porcelain tile and the material on the first floor is made up of four-color terrazzo.   


Green design was at the heart of the plans. The new facility uses recycled materials throughout: elevators run on vegetable oil, windows are placed strategically to take advantage of natural light and heat, and the building's design allows for efficient heating and cooling.

About 90 percent of the previous facility got reused or recycled: the old field house was moved west of town to become a horse stable.

McGough Construction of St. Paul was the general contractor for the $45 million facility which was designed by Hastings & Chivetta, an architectural firm that has completed more sports, recreation, and wellness facilities for Division III colleges and universities than any other firm the country. Minneapolis-based environmental building consultant Intep incorporated the "green" adaptations that minimize energy use and environmental impact. 

The Leonard Center is named in honor of the late George P. Leonard '27, his wife Wilma Fox Leonard '27 and their descendants who have been long-time supporters of Macalester.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,884 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.