VP Harper hosts official IM Building ribbon cutting
The Intramural Sports Building held its official ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon, with remarks from E. Royster Harper, the University of Michigan’s vice president for student life; Mike Widen, director of recreational sports; LSA senior Anna Wibbelman, president of Building a Better Michigan; and University Regent Michael Behm.
The IM Building first opened to students on Sept. 28, two months later than the original estimated date. In total, the renovations were projected to cost the University $21.4 million, which exceeded the original budget of $18.7 million.
The changes largely focused on facility enhancements, maintaining much of the original architecture from when the building was constructed in 1928.
Widen said it was important throughout the renovation process to preserve the original character of the facility while making necessary improvements.
“We wanted to upgrade this building and make this building new, but at the same time (preserve) the history and the iconic-ness of this great assembly,” he said. “And that was hard to do.”
Facility renovations feature new cardio and strength equipment, rooms for group or personal training, new lighting and a central air conditioning system.
Along with those enhancements, Widen said the project aimed to maximize natural light and promoting sustainability through features like motion detecting lights.
Wibbelman also emphasized the importance of fostering inclusivity in the new building, noting that the facility features gender-inclusive bathrooms and locker rooms, and is accessible for students with disabilities consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
“We’ve tried to make it as inclusive as possible so that everyone feels welcome here,” she said. “So that everyone feels like it’s their place to come and their place to be, and we hope that everyone realizes that as they come in.”
Harper said the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the Collegiate Recovery Program and Recreational Sports will also all host trauma classes within the building for students who need support, which aim to assist students after experiencing a traumatic event.
“They are designed to help students who have experienced trauma regain confidence and rediscover themselves,” she said.
LSA senior David Schafer, Central Student Government president, said in an interview that the opening of the IM Building is a significant step for the University.
“It’s very moving to me because I’ve been here for a long time, and I remember the old building,” he said. “It’s just amazing to see everything come full circle. … It’s such a good day for the University.”
During the event, several of the speakers also highlighted planned renovations for the other two recreational buildings on campus. In March 2015, the University’s Board of Regents approved renovations to the North Campus Recreational Building as part of a $13 million package approved in March 2015. The Central Campus Recreation Building is slated to be renovated between the years 2020 and 2021.
Behm said the Board of Regents benefited from student input on the project and hopes to work more with students in the future.
“We appreciated hearing from students and learning from students about what needed to be done,” he said. “We look forward to listening in the future and making these changes when needed.”