NEW BRITAIN - It’s bye-bye to the “bubble” at Central Connecticut State University.
University and project officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony on the campus for construction of a new 61,000 square-foot recreation center to replace the air-supported fabric structure next to Kaiser Hall, known as the Kaiser Annex bubble.
The 34,000 square-foot bubble, which was a cost-effective alternative at a time when additional space was sorely needed for student recreation programs and for physical education classes according to Janice Palmer, spokesperson for CCSU, has been standing since 1991.
“By replacing the old bubble and incorporating the old facilities in a new structure, we are acting as prudent stewards of the state’s properties to ensure that our students faculty and staff, as well as our neighbors can have access to state of the art facilities in which to exercise, relax, have fun and enjoy each other’s company,” said President Zulma R. Toro.
The new facility will be a two-story, steel-frame structure that will feature volleyball, tennis and basketball courts and elevated wellness track on the second floor, and equipment storage and student-use space on the first floor, according to Pasquale J. Salemi, deputy commissioner of the Department of Administration Services. A two-level bridge will connect the center to Kaiser Hall, the home of the school’s athletic programs, Salemi added, as studio space, bathrooms with shower facilities and offices for recreational administration will also be in the building.
“Our efforts will only be enhanced by our new state of the art facility,” said Peter F. Troiano, interim vice president of student affairs who said fitness facilities in the spring of 2017 logged 32,000 visits.
Funded by the CSUS infrastructure improvement program, the project’s total cost will be $25.3 with $18.3 million in construction costs. Construction is expected to be completed in 18 months, with Lawrence Brunoli, Inc., of Farmington, as the project’s general contractor, and Sasaki Associates, Inc., of Watertown, as the project architect. Downes Construction, of New Britain, will provide construction administration services.
“I’m particularly excited about this facility because it is about students. It’s where students go to recreate, to exercise, to engage in sports,” said CSCU President Mark Ojikan.
Pending approval by the Board of Regents, the building is expected to be named the Huang Recreation Center to honor the late Dr. Huange Change-Jen, who worked with a 20-year study abroad program for rural Chinese students from the Ouyang Yu Experimental Middle School to attend CCSU, and at one time donated more than $6.5 million toward an endowed chair fund at the university.
“We’ve been connected to (CCSU) for a long time,” said Paul Huang. “My father made a request in his will to start this recreation center and we’re super excited with our family's continuing relationship with Central Connecticut State University.”
Gabrielle Bierwirth, president of the Karate Club at the school, which has been practicing in the bubble since it first went up, said it will be a good change, a little sentimental to see the bubble go.
“It’s great, it’s necessary, because (the bubble) was only supposed to be a temporary thing and 20 years later it’s still standing, but it was a good home for the clubs that used it,” Bierwirth said.
State Rep. Peter Tercyak, D - New Britain, who was on hand said of Huang, “It’s wonderful to see someone who is able to give back, doing so, so generously.”
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.