Walking with Mitch Gartenberg through the Ramsey Student Center is an affecting experience.
As he strolls through the center he directs, things become more than what they seem. He sees the momentum of four new projects in which the department is involved, and keeps a mental tab of the progress that's being made and its inevitable effect on its patrons.
"Ramsey's a busy place," he said. "From what the students have told me, this is the busiest they've ever seen it. It's good that we're expanding."
The Ramsey Center, already open more than 100 hours per week, and the department are increasing their workload through new projects both at its South Campus location and elsewhere.
First, the department recently opened the Club Sports Complex at 2435 S. Milledge Avenue. A public ribbon-cutting ceremony was March 18.
The department also is planning a renovation of part of its South Campus facility. By next fall, it plans to gut the room formerly used as the gymnastics practice area in order to create an additional strength and conditioning room, two new areas for aerobics classes and offices for use by the volleyball program.
The space will be split into two floors, with the weight and cardio station downstairs and two rooms upstairs that will serve to accommodate classes like aerobics, Zumba and boxing. However, the lower floor will not be a simple recreation of its current strength and conditioning facility.
"In taking feedback from our students and others, we've decided to make (the lower floor) into a single room with lots of cardiovascular equipment and circuit training machines along with some dumbbells," Gartenberg said. "We found that those who are beginners and a few other intermediates don't feel comfortable working out near those who are clearly adept. So this way, we'll have a room for the beginners and a room for the more adept."
The 9,500-square-foot space also will utilize new equipment, some of which is being tested out now in the current facility.
The center is working with the University Architects, who are building a new commuter parking deck near the entrance to the Intramural Fields, as well as helping with the renovation of Field 9, located at the opposite end of the fields from the entrance.
"There will be recreation on that field when the band is not there," Gartenberg said. "The band usually practices from 4-7 p.m., so from times like 7-11 p.m. it will be open to our students and intramural sports. We're also looking at the possibility of holding classes on that field."
Due to construction, Field 9 will hold advantages that others do not, he said. For one thing, it will be over 100 yards long and will have parking adjacent to the field. After additional fundraising, it will have artificial turf, making it easier for users to play after it rains.