[reprinted from Plymouth State News, Aug. 26, 2014]
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A new building is rising at Plymouth State University. Driven by student and employer demand for program growth and expansion, the building, known as ALLWell North,” is a major step in advancing PSU’s position as a national leader in health and wellness education and in opening new avenues for innovation and regional economic development.
Plymouth State officials hosted a ceremonial ground breaking today (August 26) for PSU’s Active Living, Learning and Wellness (ALLWell) North building, the second facility in a comprehensive plan that began with the opening of the PSU Ice Arena in 2010.
“This is a transformative moment for Plymouth State University,” says President Sara Jayne Steen. “ALLWell North will be the largest classroom on campus at almost 108,000 square feet and provide much-needed classroom and research space for our health and wellness programs as well as expanding recreational and athletic opportunities for students and the region.”
Steen notes that some of the fastest growing majors at the University are in the health fields, including Exercise and Sport Physiology, Health Education and Promotion, Physical Education, Athletic Training and Adventure Education. This increased enrollment comes at a time when the state’s aging population will demand a marked increase in the number of bachelor and master’s-prepared allied health professionals. Increased demand for trained professionals in Outdoor and Adventure Education are also anticipated in the tourist-based economy of New Hampshire and New England as the Baby Boom generation seeks more physically active leisure activities in retirement.
“Successfully preparing future health and wellness professionals requires a synergy between academic and experiential learning,” says Julie Bernier, PSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Our students will be better prepared because of how ALLWell North re-integrates academics, athletics and recreation on one site. ALLWell North adds needed classroom space as well as a field house with a 200-meter indoor competition-sized track. The new field house, double the size of the current one in the Physical Education Center, features retractable mesh partitions to allow the space to be further divided into as many as four smaller spaces for simultaneous uses including instruction, community programming, recreation, training and fitness activities. This one construction project will alleviate 25% of the campus space needs, according to a recent space study.
The indoor track will serve as the starting point for the re-establishment of PSU’s men’s varsity track and field and the addition of women’s varsity track and field beginning in fall 2015. Men’s and women’s cross-country teams began competition last year positioning the University to interest more of the thousands of high school athletes involved in these popular sports. The addition of the new teams brings the total number of PSU varsity sports teams to 24.
The University estimates that more than 75 percent of PSU’s 7,000 students will use the new facility in a classroom, as a participant in a recreational or intramural program, or as a varsity athlete. Community members also will have access to programming, the indoor track and indoor tennis courts. The facility can also be used for regional events such as sports competitions and high school track meets, as well as large events with up to 6,000 attendees.
Because of its large event venue capacity and increased campus visitation, a third-party economic development report estimated that the building will generate more than $4 million per year in local economic impact. Approximately 250 jobs will be created during construction, and 17 new permanent jobs will be created.
ALLWell North also begins the transition from the school’s current Physical Education Center which opened in 1968 to serve a campus of 1,800 students. Considered one of the finest college-level facilities when built, that facility now lags behind in serving a campus of 7,000 students and 24 men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams.
The University’s Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities, an outreach program of education, research and community partnerships that attracts grant support and research dollars to the state, will also be housed in the new facility.
Construction is expected to last 15 months with occupancy scheduled for fall 2015. Harvey Construction of Bedford, N.H., is the general contractor. Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering of Laconia, N.H., is providing engineering services for the project. Architects are Sasaki Associates, Watertown, Mass., which also designed the PSU Ice Arena.