Gym renovations include handicap accessibility

The renovated Reynolds Gymnasium will be more accessible to members of the Wake Forest community than ever before.

Construction officials and university representatives have collaborated to ensure that Reynolds Gymnasium will be easily usable by those will physical disabilities.

“We have done many things to make accommodations for every member of the Wake Forest family,” said Max Floyd, director of Campus Recreation.

The renovated gymnasium will have a ramp that connects the entrance of Reynolds Gymnasium to the entrance of the Sutton Center.

However, the biggest changes in accessibility will be made to the interior of the gymnasium. Unlike the the old gym, the renovated gymnasium will have an elevator that stops at every floor.

Another major change will be in the accessibility of the restrooms and locker rooms. After the renovations, every restroom and locker room will be easier to access and use for those will physical disabilities. The locker rooms will also have modified lockers and shower stalls that will be easily accessible to those in wheelchairs.

Additionally, the renovated pool will have a chair lift, allowing those with physical disabilities to have easier access to water activities. 

While the renovated facility will be an accessible space for all students, faculty and staff, the positive changes made to Reynolds Gymnasium have not come without their challenges.

“Any time you’re dealing with an old building and trying to shoehorn new spaces into it, you run into challenges,” said Chris Poe, assistant director of project management for the university. “It’s a complicated building from a structural standpoint. Unlike if we were building from scratch, where you have some room to expand walls if you want to, we have some obstacles here where we can’t do that.”

Poe oversees the Reynold Gymnasium renovation and transformation project, as well as other major construction projects on campus. In this role, Poe works with Student Health Services, Athletics, the Office of Wellbeing and Campus Recreation to ensure that the renovated gymnasium will be a fun and relaxing environment.

“My vision for the new gymnasium is that it would be very open and bright. I think it will be a fun space,” Poe said.

Michael Shuman, director of the Learning Assistance Center and disability Services, is hopeful that the improved accessibility of the renovated gymnasium will serve all students better.

“I really appreciate Campus Recreation’s commitment to providing equitable access for all students, regardless of ability,” Shuman said.

The Reynolds Gymnasium renovation and transformation is a three-phase project whose plans were drafted in September of 2014. Phase I was the construction of the Sutton Center, which opened in January of 2016.

Phase II focuses on the renovation of the original 140,000 square foot Reynolds Gymnasium and is expected to be completed next fall. In this phase, a hallway will be built that connects the upper floor of Reynolds Gymnasium to the Sutton Center. Reynolds Gymnasium will also house the Office of Wellbeing and Student Health Services.

Additionally, both upper gymnasiums will include a multi-activity court for intramural use. The renovated gymnasium will also be able to accommodate 200 fitness machines.

Phase III is the renovation of the pool, which is expected to be completed in March of 2018.

The renovations are overseen by Frank L. Blum Construction Company.