Colby Opens New State-of-the-Art Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center

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350,000-square-foot building is the most advanced and comprehensive NCAA D-III facility in the country

The Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center
By Laura Meader
Contact: George Sopko ([email protected]) 207-859-4346
October 19, 2020

As part of its commitment to provide all students with the opportunity to lead healthy and active lifestyles, Colby College announced that it has opened its new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center.

The 350,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building is the most advanced and comprehensive NCAA D-III facility in the country, and one in a series of major investments by the College to create and support best-in-class programs and initiatives. It was made possible in large part from the generous philanthropic support of the Harold Alfond Foundation, a longtime contributor to Colby College.

“The new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center is an extension of Colby’s mission to develop and educate students holistically and help them compete in and out of the classroom to achieve excellence in all areas of their lives,” said Mike Wisecup, vice president and Harold Alfond Director of Athletics at Colby. “Whether it’s varsity sports or individual fitness initiatives, competitive or recreational athletics, an active and healthy lifestyle is a critical part of the student experience at Colby. The goal of the new facility is to support that experience at the highest level possible and provide the best resources available.”

The Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, which is located at the north end of campus across from Johnson Pond, has a wide range of unique venues. Key among them are an aquatics center with the only Olympic-sized Myrtha pool in Maine, an ice arena with year-round regulation ice, the Margaret M. Crook Center with three regulation-length basketball/volleyball courts, and the open-air O’Neil Atrium at the center of the building. Additional highlights include:

  • The three-level Boulos Family Fitness Center that includes a mix of free weights, cables, selectorize and cardio equipment, open areas for stretching and training, as well as dedicated fitness studios and a mindfulness and meditation room
  • An indoor competition center (track/field house) with a six-lane track, regulation tennis courts, and field-event accommodations for pole vault, high jump, long/triple jump, and shot put
  • A squash center with nine championship regulation courts
  • A 42-foot-tall climbing and bouldering wall with terrain ranging from easy vertical to more difficult articulated areas
  • A dedicated athletic trainer’s suite with hydrotherapy pools as well as exam rooms and a triage room

The new center’s size and capacity is enabling a level of sports, fitness, and recreation that is unavailable at many institutions. It has also allowed Colby to launch a new and unique fitness and recreation program for the entire campus.

The Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center's Olympic-sized Myrtha pool.
The aquatics center includes New England’s only Olympic-sized Myrtha pool.

“Completing the center in the middle of the pandemic had its challenges, but having it open now is turning out to be a significant advantage as it’s helping to facilitate a safe academic and athletic environment as part of Colby’s Return to Campus Plan,” said Wisecup. “In fact, a number of classes are being held there, and we’re hopeful that in the near future it will also allow us to hold select competitions.”

 Design and Sustainability Excellence

With a bold yet elegant design that complements Colby’s traditional campus architecture, the entire three-floor building was developed to emphasize daylight and openness, maximize views into venues, and intuitively articulate the building’s organization—conveying a sense of intimacy despite its expansive scale. 

Hopkins Architects was the lead design architect on the project, Sasaki served as the architect of record, Arup was the structural engineerand Consigli was the general contractor.

The facility is also tracking toward a LEED Gold certification—almost unheard of in large-scale sports facilities—and was designed and constructed to support Colby’s position as one of the leading sustainable campuses in the U.S. and one of only four educational institutions to have achieved carbon neutrality. Key sustainability components in the new center include optimizing natural resources (e.g. daylight harvesting), minimizing embodied carbon, and reducing energy and water use as well as carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

By being built as a natural addition to the campus and integrating seamlessly into the surrounding area, the facility will also be one of the first Sustainable SITES Initiative projects in the state of Maine.

The new center, which was the largest building project in Maine at the time of construction, surpasses conventional athletics and recreation facility design by bringing together all of Colby’s indoor competition venues, as well as training, recreation, and support areas, into one graceful space.

“One of the most unique elements about this facility is that all the athletic and recreation venues are together, which brings members of our community together, whether they are training for varsity competition, practicing yoga, or learning to rock climb,” commented Tiffany Lomax, Colby’s newly appointed and first director of recreation services. “This will allow us to coordinate and connect activities—and the staff driving them—so all of our students can benefit from everything this amazing building has to offer.”

Supporting Waterville and Central Maine

The new Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center highlights Colby’s commitment to driving the economic resurgence of Waterville and Central Maine. To that end, the ability to eventually invite more teams and events to campus—from NESCAC to international competitions—will have a significant positive impact on the local economy.

Just as important, once the pandemic is contained the center will expand on Colby’s long history of being a partner, steward, and resource for community events.

“This beautiful new building will eventually provide an opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate and support athletics, which through its focus on teamwork and healthy competition can positively impact the lives of young people,” said Wisecup. “This was always the core intent of the building’s namesake, Harold Alfond, and Colby will continue to honor that purpose.”

Construction of the $200-million Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center, which broke ground in October 2017, was completed on time, and of the more than 80 contractors involved with the work, nearly 50 were Maine-based. Additionally, almost $120 million of the overall cost of the project went to businesses within the state.