It’s What is Inside That Counts


In Binghamton, New York, three hours northwest of the Big Apple, the East Gym at Binghamton University used to suffer from a problem usually reserved for delis in Brooklyn: too little space. But back in 2005, the university began planning for a major renovation project.

“The renovation finished in 2012 and took the East Gym from being the oldest building on campus to becoming a true recreation center that could meet the activity needs and interests of the campus community,” said Cindy Cowden, the senior associate director of campus recreation at Binghamton University.

And while there wasn’t much room to expand the East Gym, the renovation was used to make interior improvements to the facility, as well as some other expansions.

“While the exterior of the building remained largely the same, the project renovated virtually all internal areas of the East Gym,” said Laura Cichostepski, the assistant director of marketing of Binghamton University. “The project included a renovated and expanded FitSpace fitness facility — two-and-a-half times bigger than the old facility — as well as renovated multi-purpose rooms, consolidated administrative offices and upgrades to our mechanical systems.”

The biggest improvement from the renovation? More space. “Our fitness center has almost doubled in size and capacity,” said Cowden. “We went from having to count patrons and allow one in for every one out, to comfortably handle most times of the week. We still have busier times and would love to add additional strength stations, but we no longer have to ‘bounce’ the door.”

From planning to construction to the grand opening, the project was a seven-year undertaking. “Planning for the project began in 2005, and the ground was broken in November 2010,” said Cichostepski. “The project was completed on January 28, 2012, with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony the weekend students returned for the spring semester.”

When it was all said and done, a huge reason for the end product was the Binghamton staff’s ability to recognize needs and amend plans accordingly.“The best-laid plans on paper sometimes just don’t work out in real life,” said Cowden. “There are a number of designs we made that just didn’t work exactly as planned. We’ve all heard it before, but try to keep facilities and set-ups as flexible as possible – that way when interests or usage needs change, you can adjust to meet new needs.”

After all the planning for the project, the end result was well worth the effort. “After hearing campus visitors comment in disbelief on the age and size of the pre-renovated facility, we now are part of the regular campus tour for prospective students,” explained Cowden. “It’s a facility we are proud of and work hard to keep in tip-top shape.”   

Bobby Dyer
Bobby is a staff writer at Peake Media. Reach him at

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