BATON ROUGE, La. — Universities across the country continue to compete to have the latest and greatest amenities in hopes of attracting potential students. The newest amenity attracting attention this summer is Louisiana State University’s (LSU) lazy river pool, designed to spell out the LSU acronym.
The 536-foot leisure pool is just one of the key highlights of a larger renovation of the University Recreation (UREC) facilities, including the Student Recreation Center that opened in 1992, according to the university website. The $84.75 million renovation project began in 2013 and has been completed in three phases, with a grand-opening celebration scheduled for Sept. 8 to announce the entire project completion. Locally based GraceHebert Architects and Kansas City, Mo.-based 360 Architecture (acquired by HOK in 2015) were tasked with designing the project.
Phase I included an expansion of the current field complex, including moving and replacing four lighted softball fields and four lighted multipurpose fields as well as creating a new Challenge Course across from the Student Recreation Center. Then, Phase II included the addition of nine new tennis courts and an additional 344 parking spaces at the rec center, both of which debuted in fall 2014.
In addition to the lazy river pool, this latest Phase III part of the project includes an update to the indoor swimming pool, a redesign of the rec center’s locker rooms and moving administration offices to the front of the facility to better serve students. A 13,000-square-foot expansion of the cardio and weight space to 40,431 square feet also enhances the space for students as well as the addition of an indoor jogging trail, turfed CrossFit training slope, 35-foot climbing wall, three more multipurpose courts and a Fitness Assessment Center.
In March, UREC reactivated its main entrance, which attracted a massive amount of students to come explore the facilities. Laurie Braden, executive director of UREC, reported an 89 percent increase in student use in the month of March. A majority of those students were individuals who had never used the facilities in the past.