UI's IMPE to complete transformation to ARC on Aug. 21

UI's IMPE to complete transformation to ARC on Aug. 21

URBANA – Folks, this is not your father's IMPE.

In fact, it's not IMPE at all any more.

It's ARC, the Activities and Recreation Center. And there are four levels of things to do here: work out on cardio equipment, run around the new track, join a spinning class, even lounge in the sauna, on a couch in front of a flat screen TV or at the cafe.

After a $54 million face-lift, you could say a radical one, the new building officially opens on the University of Illinois' move-in day, Aug. 21.

The campus building, which first opened in 1971, has gone from roughly 210,000 to 340,000 square feet. Administrators have called the project an expansion and renovation.

"We've basically gone up and out," said Jayne DeLuce, an associate director at the UI Division of Campus Recreation.

Under construction since March 2006, the building's previously renovated east wing remained opened with basketball courts and a small fitness center. That area is called Gym 1, and it contains five basketball courts and a multi-activity area.

On the upper level is an L-shaped running track measuring one-sixth of a mile. The previous one topped out at one-11th of a mile. The turns on the new track are not banked like the previous track, DeLuce said.

The upper level also has elliptical machines and rows of cardio equipment. Machines, which are iPod integrated and feature personalized TV viewing screens, also are positioned so the person has views of campus. Members who are enrolled in the personal training program can access a key which can record workout data, said Erik Riha, lead assistant director in marketing.

A 24-foot-tall climbing wall with several routes marked on it rises on the south end of the building.

In one of the gyms, now called Gym 2, plain cinder block walls were the dominant feature. Now there are murals of campus scenes – of the Marching Illini, the Black Chorus, La Casa Cultural Latina, a basketball game.

Throughout the building are seven multipurpose rooms, plus one for martial arts and boxing.

On the entrance level is 201 Express, a new shop that will sell items like magazines, T-shirts and some food. A cafe, Uncommon Grounds, has tables inside and outside by the pool deck.

"There are so many places to hang out," DeLuce said.

The exterior pool features a renovated deck and railings. The indoor pool area has had windows added and new benches. Some improvements you can't see include the pool's new air-handling system.

The renovation and expansion of IMPE follows that of CRCE, the Campus Recreation Center East on Gregory Drive, which concluded in March 2005. Both projects are being paid for by student fees.

The idea is that ARC has certain features CRCE does not, and vice versa, DeLuce said. For example, CRCE has the leisure pool; ARC has the workout pool. CRCE has a whirlpool; ARC has a sauna.

That's right: a 23-person, coed sauna.

ARC also contains renovated racquetball and squash courts, a personal training studio and cycling studio.

New features also include a 151-seat auditorium and the University of Illinois Wellness Center. An instructional kitchen will offer classes such as on cooking with diabetes or international cuisine.

Even if you're not a member of ARC, you can go check it out. Nonmembers are welcome to hang out in the building's front section. There you don't need to be a member to go to the cafe, shop or view the outdoor pool or one of the gyms. Area residents who are not members can also rent spaces, like the climbing wall, kitchen or a meeting room, for parties or conferences.

All about ARC

Official opening: Aug. 21.

Project cost: $54 million; $82 million for both ARC and CRCE (Campus Recreation Center East).

New features: a 1/6-mile running track (up from 1/11-mile), instructional kitchen, auditorium, meeting rooms and multipurpose rooms, climbing wall, cafe/juice bar and convenience store, new cardio and weight-training equipment, studios for personal training, bike classes, coed sauna, windows in the indoor pool.

Know your acronyms

IMPE: The name of the former building at 201 E. Peabody Drive. Short for Intramural-Physical Education Building.

ARC: The new building's name. Stands for Activities and Recreation Center. Administrators decided it needed a new name, better to reflect what will go on there.

WIMPE: Campus Recreation Center East, at 1102 W. Gregory Drive, used to be called this because it was smaller than the aforementioned IMPE. Also known as CRCE (pronounced "SIR-see").