By JULIE DYMON
A. D. Whittaker Construction is nearing completion of University of Mary Washington’s Anderson Center, piquing curiosity around the campus and community as to the purpose and benefit of the building.
The project’s cost is currently estimated at $18, 343, 615, according to Gary Hobson, director of capital planning and construction.
The Anderson Center, a new multiuse convocation center located beside Goolrick Hall, is named in honor of William Anderson, UMW’s sixth and longest serving president, who retired in 2006 after 23 years.
Ed Hegmann, director of athletics, has supervised the Anderson Center project since its inception in 1989 when he identified the need for this type of venue. Goolrick Hall’s gymnasium, UMW’s current basketball and volleyball court facility, can only accommodate up to 450 spectators, since it was built in 1969 when the college was smaller and not yet co-ed.
Construction of the Anderson Center began with the ground breaking ceremony in September, 2009. Though the project is currently four months behind schedule, the ribbon cutting ceremony is planned to be held just prior to the Fall Honor Convocation, scheduled for Aug. 25.
According to Hegmann, the new venue will provide seating for about 1,709 spectators for basketball or volleyball tournaments. Concert and lecture events can accommodate up to 2,500 people, as 800 chairs will fit on the floor around the stage area.
Rob Wood, men’s basketball coach, stated that the coaches of basketball and volleyball worked with Hegmann throughout the designing process and provided their input to ensure that this sporting venue would surpass others they had visited.
“With Goolrick Hall, UMW has been in the bottom 5 percent of the country’s university sports facilities, but the Anderson Center puts us in the top percent,” Wood said.
Located beside and internally connected to Goolrick Hall on two levels, the main entrance of the Anderson Center faces campus walk.
According to Hegmann, the Anderson Center dome was inspired by the Bell Tower’s Jeffersonian dome and architecturally connects both ends of campus walk.
Consistent with the architecture throughout campus, the Anderson Center has a classical revival style red-brick façade with white columns. Just inside the entrance more white columns mirror the exterior ones, highlighting the grand scale of the interior.
The spacious foyer has an octagonal coffered ceiling that opens up into a 360 degree windowed dome. Natural light fills the entrance and highlights the large UMW insignia engraved in a cream shade on black porcelain tile, directly below the dome.
To the left is the lengthy main hall, which will be utilized for concessions, restrooms, coaches’ offices, president’s box and a welcoming area. This hall is lined with arched windows that are framed in cherry veneer.
Hegmann plans to have furniture groupings along the windows and some flat screen monitors for patrons while they wait in line for their Sodexho concessions.
Large trophy cases decorate the wall on the right side of the main hall. The color palette for the interior will be navy blue, icicle white and gray with red accents. A light blue was added to the school colors for the paint scheme.
The Anderson Center features that stand above other venues, according to Wood, begin in the locker rooms.
The changing areas have cherry veneer wood lockers on carpet with outlets at every locker and Wi-Fi available throughout the facility. Wood’s favorite feature is a game timer inside each locker room that will allow the teams to prepare with their remaining wait-time readily displayed.
Wood believes that the Anderson Center will aid in student athlete retention because of its state-of-the-art accommodations. He admitted that he has seen athletes come and go because of the less-than-adequate facility in Goolrick Hall.
Hosting the regional NCAA division III basketball and volleyball tournaments will now be a possibility for UMW’s 2011-2012 season, according to Wood.
Clint Often, sports information director, mentioned that UMW will also seek to host local middle school and high school tournaments.
The arena is on the lower level and has 14,000 square feet of wooden floor. It is equipped with retractable bleachers that provide 1,709 seats and 500 of those will have chair backs and arm rests.
The design team extended the welcome mat to the community by including the additional comfortable spectator seating, elevators, professionally-run concessions and 52 restrooms.
Hegmann admitted that there is not enough seating to accommodate commencement ceremonies in May. He did suggest the potential for an overflow crowd from Ball Circle to enjoy graduation on the main floor.
There are two 26-feet-by-26 feet jumbo screens and one 20-feet-by-16 feet screen that can be rolled down from the ceiling. The combination of the large visuals and the new sound system should provide a nearly-there experience for families and friends of the graduates.
That will be the first official ceremony in the new facility, and will be followed by the Presidential Inaugural Ball in honor of President Richard Hurley, on Sept. 30.
During Anderson’s presidency, he brought about significant changes to the physical appearance and cultural offerings, while raising the standards and integrity of UMW.
Over the course of Anderson’s administration, UMW saw the Jepson Alumni center, Jepson Science center, Ridderhoff Martin gallery, Simpson library, Woodard campus center and four residence halls to the campus.
In addition to the physical changes, Anderson boosted the cultural offerings through the creation of the Fredericksburg Forum, Great Lives Series and UMW’s Community Symphony Orchestra’s Celebrity Series.
Anderson was an active member of the community’s Chamber of Commerce, and established the Community Outreach and Resource program to give students a way to get involved in the Fredericksburg community through volunteer efforts.
The intercollegiate athletic program was also created on Anderson’s watch, and he helped UMW obtain its university status in 2004 with the establishment of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies on the Stafford campus.
The center also reflects this balance with the variety of events it will host from academic lectures and inaugural balls to concerts and sporting events.
“I’m so excited to have a venue we can be proud of,” Hegmann said.