Shellhouse renovation a groundbreaking event

Amidst rumors of an early retirement announcement, Barbara Hedges gave center stage Thursday to the groundbreaking of the Conibear Shellhouse renovation. At a cost of $18 million, $2.5 still yet to be raised, The Shellhouse will be open for business in March of 2005.

When asked if she would be one of the people helping to move offices back into the shellhouse in 2005, she politely refused to comment. Hedges leaves Friday for a two-week vacation.

Among those attending the groundbreaking included head football coach Keith Gilbertson, crew coach Bob Ernst, Hedges, and University President Lee Huntsman.

"When completed, it will be the crown jewel of the athletics facilities at the University of Washington." She went on to say that it's the one facility that nearly all of the approximately 700 student-athletes attending Washington will use every day.

Miller-Hull Architects are the principal designers of the renovation, and the construction has been contracted out to Sellen Construction of Seattle. The total square footage of the shellhouse will increase by 75 percent, from 27,000 to 47,250 square feet.

There are four pieces to the shellhouse renovation. There will be renovations to the crew facilities, the Student-Athlete Academic Services, the dining room and also to the Student-Athlete lounge.

For the crew team, here are some of the renovations being made for them:

1) A grand, four-section ergometer training and team room, directly adjacent to locker rooms, shell storage bays and docks.
2) New men's and women's full-service locker rooms, directly adjacent to the ergometer/team rooms.
3) An additional rowing shell storage bay, adding storage and repair service.
4) Modern coaches offices overlooking Lake Washington.
5) A new Captain's Room, centrally located with views into the shell storage bays.
6) New glass roll-up doors at shell bays and ergometer/team rooms, allowing open and connected views to Lake Washington during training.

"No matter what anyone else can say about the renovation, Oregon can't have one of these and Colorado can't have one," Ernst said.

The other two components of the renovation include updating the Student-Athlete Academic services and also the Dining Hall.

For the Academic Services, here are the highlights of their renovation:

1) Expanded facilities for counseling, tutoring and studying areas.
2) New offices for staff and counselors.
3) Expanded, modern computer laboratory.
4) Group and individual study spaces, with computer capabilities.
5) Tiered-floor auditorium with teaching space for 40 students.
6) High ceilings with an open-area architectural approach in the upper wing, creating a pleasant atmosphere for studying.

Stan Chernicoff, Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services, couldn't say enough about the impact the renovations will have to his area.

"Every Saturday in December, Coach (Keith) Gilbertson has me come in and talk to his football recruits and I've always had this mantra - We have the oldest student services program, we have the most well-funded program, the largest program and the one most dedicated to it's cause. But until today we did not have the best work space. Now we will.

"We will have the finest building in the country to go along with the finest program in the country. I look at all of it with great pride. It's a wonderful symbol of our commitment to 'true students', as well as athletes."

President Huntsman also chimed in with a 'symbolic' theme. "It symbolizes the future of our student-athletes and the University, as it will be an 'athletic village'," said Huntsman. "It's also a symbol as the capstone to an era of renewal of athletic facilities, where Barbara Hedges has been the spiritual, executive and cheerleading force."

He also mentioned that the renovation is a symbol of partnership between donors and administrators, putting forth a 'phenomenal commitment' of resources to see that the project gets done in the right manner.

"It will be a symbol for just how far we have come and also of how far we are going," said Huntsman.

The dining facility is also part of the renovation, increasing its size by 71 percent. It will also have these features:

1) Expanded food service with the ability to accommodate 200-plus student-athletes at one time.
2) Large, 18-foot floor-to-ceiling windows with water views in the dining hall. "More people are going to be asking to have their weddings in that room," Ernst joked. "It will be the most spectacular room on campus."
3) A 2,500 square-foot deck available for dining overlooking Lake Washington.
4) New self-serve approach to food service with modern servery and equipment.
5) Full-service kitchen with wide-ranging food menu preparation capabilities.
6) Multi-functional use of dining facility, including academic support.
7) 1936 Olympic Rowing shell to be displayed prominently.
8) Complete sound system with provisions for multi-media support.
9) Wireless internet capabilities included.

For the Lounge, the main renovations include:

1) Open concept off main lobby with direct views of Lake Washington.
2) Direct access to external, waterfront deck.
3) Large-screened television.
4) Comfortable lounge furniture compatible with a study environment.

Construction will start in January and last approximately fourteen months. Top Stories