Rising costs, aging infrastructure and delayed building permits. One after another, a host of problems escalated to delay the IMA changing rooms and swimming pool renovation project by several months.
“The construction schedule is being finalized, but we expect the project to be completed in the summer of 2023 to reopen in the fall of 2023,” said Katie Beth, associate director of facilities and operations at UW Recreation, in an email.
Construction was originally scheduled to begin in the fall of 2021, but full-scale demolition is now expected to begin in May or June of this year, according to UW Recreation director Matt Newman.
Much of the delay can be attributed to nationwide supply and labor shortages, which extended the construction schedule and drove up construction costs. Faulty estimates in the initial scope of the project also exacerbated the situation.
“When we started this design phase, in the summer of 2021, it became very clear that the [IMA] the building, over 50 years old, was going to need a little more [renovation] than what the feasibility study showed,” Newman said.
With the IMA showing signs of age, the project needed to change its renovation plans, raising the projected cost even further, according to Newman.
“As costs escalated, it became clear [that for] what we were looking for, we couldn’t afford the full price of the project,” Newman said.
The budget as approved by the university at the end of 2020 was set at $28 million, with approximately $23 million coming directly from the capital reserves of the Service and Activity Fee (SAF) Committee. The remaining $5 million is funded by an internal loan with the university, according to Newman.
Despite budget limitations, the initial budget will not change and students should see no change in their SAF bills, according to Beth. Instead, the project may scale back some of its initial plans to save money.
“The square footage of the project will most likely be affected, the scale of finishes will be reduced, and some amenities that we were hoping to have in the project may have to be removed,” Beth said.
Specific details have yet to be finalized, but a pool partition, for example, may be up for grabs, according to Beth.
To make matters worse, permit delays from the city of Seattle are extending the construction schedule.
“We were late getting the permits, and now the permitting process is a few months longer than normal,” Newman said.
Delays and roadblocks aside, the renovations will bring much-needed improvements to the IMA. The building has undergone several upgrades since its original completion in 1968, including the Addition of 100,000 square feet in 2003 – but the design of the building never considered gender inclusion and accessibility.
“There were two [locker rooms], a labeled man, a labeled woman,” Newman said. “This type of binary labeling is obsolete… Another terrible part of the story is [that] the men’s locker room is almost twice as large as the women’s.
With the new floor plan, the IMA will include three locker rooms of similar size. At least one will be designated as a gender-neutral locker room. For the other two, UW Recreation will label one male and the other female, or just both as gender-neutral locker rooms. The decision is still pending, but the availability of three locker rooms will allow some flexibility, according to Newman.
“What we end up labeling them, we will do in consultation with students and all of our users,” Newman said.
The new design will also consider accessibility by ensuring students of all physical abilities can safely enter showers and locker rooms, according to Newman.
Although much of the original plan was changed, the IMA renovations will ultimately contribute to a more inclusive and accessible campus, according to Newman.
To find updated floor plans and progress updates, visit theIMA Locker Room and Swimming Pool Renovation Project Website. Students, faculty, and IMA members can share their thoughts on the project through the feedback form at the bottom of the webpage.
Contact contributing writer Miki Kusunose at [email protected] Twitter: @miki_kusunose
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