Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness

Story posted May 15, 2008

The Bowdoin Campaign
  • Start Date: June 2008
  • Estimated Occupancy Date: Fall 2009
  • Project Manager: Greg Hogan, Bowdoin College
  • Architect: Cambridge Seven Associates of Cambridge, Mass.
  • Construction Manager: Barr & Barr, Inc., of Framingham, Mass.

Construction of the new Peter Buck Cener for Health and Fitness is underway. Trustees approved the $15.5 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 houses 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 the northwest corner of the new Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness.

The new addition, which will replace a structure 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 Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness is expected to be completed in fall 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 spin 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 Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness provides 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 Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness 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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Interior rendering

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.

The Transformation

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

The 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 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 health and fitness center will be accompanied by some detours for pedestrians and other temporary changes in the immediate area.

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

During the project, the walkway between Morrell and Druckenmiller Hall will be closed.

LEED Building Project

New Sustainability Web page

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

Bowdoin has registered the health and fitness 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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