They call it the Loveliest Village on the Plains for a reason. Tucked away along the eastern border of the state of Alabama, two hours south of Birmingham and an hour-and-a-half west of Atlanta, the city of Auburn has an undeniable charm.
Called the Alabama Polytechnic Institute until 1960, Auburn’s geographical features include beautiful, rolling plains still used as farmland, while the city itself was ranked by Forbes in 2017 as one of the 10 best small towns to start a business or career.
This steady growth into a more business-oriented town can be attributed to the steadily growing student population at Auburn University. An increase of 21,860 students in 2000 to 24,530 students in 2008 prompted many expansion and construction projects across campus, including a major recreational facility upgrade.
“The Recreation and Wellness Center opened in August 2013 as a brand new 240,000-square-foot dedicated recreation facility,” said Scott Harper, the facilities and operations director for Auburn University. “The total project was $72 million.”
With design meetings held from 2008 to 2010, according to Harper no detail was spared in the construction of the center. The facility is complete with a one-third-mile elevated track, six basketball courts, indoor soccer court, rock climbing wall, outdoor pool, fitness floor and many other features within the space.
“We wanted to provide the students of Auburn University a dedicated recreation and wellness center that will educate, inspire and facilitate lifelong healthy lifestyles,” said Harper.
To accomplish the lofty goal of such an encompassing recreation facility, communication among all parties involved played a huge role. “Great communication with the architects and the architects communicating with your team is vital,” said Harper. “Our architects listened to us and did everything they could to accommodate our needs and desires.”
After years of design and construction, the Recreation and Wellness Center opened its doors to students and faculty in August 2013. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that meets its students’ fitness needs at every turn.
The planning and execution of such a large undertaking weren’t quick, but for Harper and his staff, the end goal was worth the legwork. “Work for long, hard hours to ensure you get everything right — it’s just a season,” encouraged Harper. “Enjoy the process, have fun and help those around you to have fun. It’s recreation.”