Wheelock Gym to be renovated

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By Candice Phalen / Staff Writer

By Candice Phalen / Staff Writer

For almost 100 years, Riverside Community College has received praise for its campus.

The school’s unique architectural styles reflect its diverse community, but they do not all reflect California’s current safety standards.

This summer, construction will begin on the Wheelock Gymnasium at Riverside City Campus in order to comply with updated safety codes regarding fire and earthquakes.

Among the fire codes, renovations will be made to the buildings exits and stairwells.

The building’s structure will be modified to conform to newly established earthquake safety codes as well.

Earthquake.usgs.gov has printed hundreds of reports of seismic activity in 2010 thus far.

The San Andreas Fault line runs directly through Riverside County and because of this, extra precautions need to be made.

Buildings with more flexibility tend to fare better than those with more solidity because they provide less resistance to the earth’s movements.

Modifications to the gym will meet those expectations.

“Seismic safety is one of the major reasons for construction, not because it was unsafe but because one of the things we want to do is make sure that the older buildings on at Riverside City College are brought up to modern seismic code”, said Jim Parsons, Associate Vice Chancellor Public Affairs.

“Remember that the gym and a few other buildings on campus were originally built in the 1920s,” stated Parsons.

According to athletic director Barry Meier, renovations on the building are going to be only a minor inconvenience for those involved sports activities.

The school’s basketball teams will practice and play in the Huntley Gym and those taking fitness classes will be housed in a temporary facility on campus.

“The teams and coaches are excited about the new facility and although they will be temporarily displaced, the prospect of a new gym is exciting and worth the sacrifices,” Meier said.

“It will be a state of the art, fully equipped gym that will be utilized by not only the basketball teams but also our students and the community at large,” Meier said.

A relative question many students have is how the construction might affect the already limited parking.

The plan requires the crews working on it to close approximately 62 spaces directly adjacent to the project.

However, temporary alterations will be made to accommodate a few more parking spaces.

Among other things, other plans for the building include an elevator, a new roof, a new scoreboard, refurbished locker rooms and bathrooms, and some architectural enhancements in the general style of the other buildings on campus.

The expected cost of these renovations is approximately $18.5 million, made possible by the state of California and Measure C Fund. Construction is expected to finish in August of 2012.

Associate Vice Chancellor Orin Williams is all for it.

“This project is exciting as it improves a very important structure that has significant historical relevance to both the College and to the City of Riverside,” said Williams.

“Wheelock Gymnasium has enjoyed a rich and colorful history over the past 82 years, and with the improvements, will be enjoyed for another 82 years.”

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