Campus News

Trustees Approve Fitness, Health and Wellness Center Construction

The Bowdoin Campaign

Story posted May 14, 2008

Construction of the new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center is began in June 2008. Trustees approved the $14.75 million project at their May 10, 2008, meeting in Brunswick.

Plans call for a four-level, 44,659 square feet addition to the Morrell Gym complex that will dedicate a shared facility to benefit mind, body and spirit practices by housing exercise rooms along with centers for health and wellness. Consistent with the College's ongoing sustainability efforts, the project will seek LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) certification.

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Evening rendering of west side of the new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center.

The new addition, which will replace a structure currently housing athletic department offices, will be sheathed in glass — reflecting the campus day and night, forming what the architect describes as a literal and figurative lantern: a beacon of fitness, health and wellness for the campus community.

The new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center is expected to be completed by August 2009. Its construction is the latest example of how Bowdoin and its physical campus are evolving to meet the demands of today's students and campus community.


Bulking Up the Fitness Equipment
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Rendering of northwest perspective

The fitness floors will house an anticipated 51 pieces of cardio equipment — nearly twice as many as are currently in Watson Fitness Center — including 18 treadmills, 19 elliptical machines and 12 exercise bikes (up from eight, eight and six, respectively, in Watson) and 12 new spin bikes. Many pieces of cardio equipment will be equipped with personal television monitors.

The new facility will also have 17 pieces of weight training exercise equipment (up from 13), including four handicap accessible pieces. Plate-loaded equipment will increase from three to eight pieces, and free weight rack systems will increase from seven to 10.

The new Center dedicates two full floors to fitness, comprising more than 14,000 square feet.

Taking the place of the existing Watson Fitness Center, this new exercise facility, with an expanded number of cardio machines, free weight areas and a three-story rock climbing wall, more than triples the amount of exercise space currently provided.

In 1995 when Watson Fitness Center opened, the College did not fully anticipate the explosion of students, faculty and staff dedicated to fitness and wellness.

No sooner was the renovation completed than the space it provided was found to be inadequate.

The new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center provided ample opportunity to pursue and realize health and wellness objectives.

The areas devoted to physical fitness will be located on the ground level and first floor.


The Fitness, Health and Wellness Center will provide new space on the third floor for the College's healthcare services, currently housed at the Dudley Coe Health Center.

It will be a fully equipped primary care medical office staffed by board-certified physician's assistants, nurse practitioners and contracted physicians who will provide primary and acute care services to students when classes are in session.

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North elevation

The College's new healthcare services facility complies with new federal regulations and HIPAA rules regarding privacy and includes examination rooms, medical staff offices and a waiting room.


One of the fastest-growing areas of health and wellness programs comprises yoga, meditation, tai chi and other classes. Bowdoin's new Fitness, Health and Wellness Center will bring these offerings together from their disparate and borrowed spaces around campus and link them to the College's traditional fitness and health facilities.

The Transformation

Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., the architectural firm that designed Bowdoin's Kanbar Hall and the renovations of Searles Hall, has been hired to work with the College to create a Fitness, Health and Wellness Center that integrates not only with Morrell Gym, to which it's attached, but with the campus as well.

Fitness, Health and Wellness Center

The relocation and expansion of the Fitness and Wellness Center is a priority of The Bowdoin Campaign, which ends in 2009. This will have a dramatic impact on student life, reflecting the evolving needs and interests of today's students and campus community.

The Fitness, Health and Wellness Center addition transforms the existing Morrell Gym lobby — adding a large skylight that will bring natural light into a formerly dim corridor and providing entry to the fitness area.

It also creates direct access to Sargent Gym and the David Saul Smith Union.

The current circuitous path between Morrell and Sargent will be eliminated, including the existing ramp.

The elevation of the new building is to match that of Sargent, allowing a simpler, at-grade entrance that meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The existing athletic offices on the west end of Morrell will be relocated to the Fitness, Health and Wellness Center's second floor. The entire athletic department will be, for the first time, under one roof in space that includes meeting rooms, lounge areas and two multipurpose rooms.

Aerial view of Morrell Gym complex and surrounding buildings. White rectangles indicate new lobby and Fitness, Health and Wellness Center; grey represents entrance canopies and connector to Sargent Gym; blue shading indicates soon-to-be-former footprint; the area impacted by the project is shaded in yellow.

The new addition will be set back 15 feet from the western edge of the existing building, opening up what is currently a tight area for pedestrians between Morrell and the heating plant, which will undergo some aesthetic upgrades itself, including new windows and landscaping.

The project calls for extensive new landscaping designed by landscape architect Carol R. Johnson Associates. Bowdoin's new landscape architect, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture, of Freeport, Maine, will coordinate the placement of additional trees and shrubs. New walkways will also be created.

Construction Notes

Construction of the Fitness, Health and Wellness Center will be accompanied by some detours for pedestrians and other temporary changes in the immediate area.

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West side evening rendering depicting three-story rock climbing wall

Morrell Gym will be closed during the summer of 2008, but will reopen in September and function throughout the academic year, hosting basketball and volleyball games and other programs. A temporary entrance will be constructed on the east side of the building toward the parking lot and Dayton Arena.

During the demolition and steel construction phases, to take place during summer 2008, the walkway between Morrell and Druckenmiller Hall will be closed. A path through fencing in that area will be open for the beginning of the fall semester in September 2008.

LEED Building Project

New Sustainability Web page

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Click here to learn more about Bowdoin's commitment to Sustainability.

Bowdoin plans to register the Fitness, Health and Wellness Center as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building project.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created LEED as a rating system for green building.

The project anticipates receiving credits for practices including:

  • Building products which incorporate recycled and post-consumer content Locally manufactured building products
  • More than 75 percent of construction waste diverted from landfills
  • Effective use of natural light
  • Energy efficient windows
  • Indoor air quality management plan
  • Low VOC content building products
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures with motion sensor flushometers and faucets
  • Green Power (Campus Energy Contracts)
  • Compact fluorescent lamps

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West side rendering

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