Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle
Glen Van Andel says it will be a great place to host the venerable Calvin-Hope game. And it will be a great place for Calvin’s basketball, volleyball, baseball, tennis, track and field, swimming and diving, and other teams to practice.
However, the Calvin emeritus professor of health, physical education, recreation, dance and sport (HPERDS) said the most significant impact of the $50 million Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex will not be the way it changes Calvin’s physical landscape. “It will change the culture of this community,” Van Andel said. “I think the biggest change will be the way it promotes a healthy lifestyle in the community among students, employees and their families.”
Currently, it can be difficult for Calvin students to find space in the fieldhouse for a workout or a pickup game. “The time for the average student to use the facility has been limited, especially in the winter months when they’re forced indoors, because athletes are always using it,” he said. The expanded fieldhouse facilities will allow students and others to pump iron in one weight room while a HPERDS class studies weight training in another — or to swim laps on one side of the pool while the swimming and diving teams practice on another.
The new fieldhouse will also allow HPERDS to substantially enhance its programming, Van Andel said. “The stewardship of our mind, body and spirit is integral to Calvin’s mission, and this facility will enhance our ability to achieve that mission.”
Reflecting Spiritual Life
Last summer, as construction hummed at the new Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex, a much smaller part of Calvin’s campus also underwent renovation. The chapel plaza originally needed repair because the Lab Theater, located underneath the plaza, was contending with a perpetually leaky roof.
But at Calvin, said college architect Frank Gorman, each repair should be an opportunity for improvement. After determining the renovation logistics, Gorman teamed up with a group of student Worship Apprentices to develop a paving pattern that reflects spiritual life on campus. “We started thinking about the basis of our faith — about the trinity and fellowship,” Gorman said.
Out of this collaboration was born a chapel plaza rich with Christian symbolism. Three interwoven designs in the brickwork — the triangle, triquetra and circle — represent central tenants of the Christian faith.
Dale Yi ’06, one of the Worship Apprentices involved in the design, said the new chapel plaza is “a place where the community can gather, meet and fellowship together.” Yi thought an icon for the trinity, an icon for perfect unity, would “represent the purpose and function of the chapel plaza.”
With the chapel plaza renovation, Calvin has gained a space for campus gatherings, student interaction and — on pleasant days — outdoor studying.
And the Lab Theater has enjoyed a leak-free year. “In each project, our goal is to accomplish something more than a functional repair,” Gorman said. “We want to take a problem and make it into something better.”
Learning While Living
The residential part of college life is essential to the whole college experience, according to Shirley Hoogstra, vice president for student life. It’s also the main reason for increased demand for on-campus living opportunities.
“It used to be a luxury for Grand Rapids students to live on campus and a necessity for out-of-town students,” said Hoogstra, “but ever since the mid-'80s, most students have wanted to be part of the residential nature of the learning experience.”
For the last several years, residence halls and other on-campus living options were filled beyond capacity, which prompted the need for additional housing on campus.
Completed this fall was the new wing of Kalsbeek-Huizenga, van Reken Hall, which features living-learning communities. Students who choose to live here take a step of engagement in their own learning by focusing more intentionally on an area of interest while living on campus.
With the purpose of the new space defined as learning-living environments, Calvin designed the addition around fresh thinking about how groups form communities. “We’re testing out our ideas in this building,” Hoogstra said. “The main characteristic is that every floor is equipped with a welcoming, central gathering space, which, we hope, will facilitate a feeling of community.
We’ve also made the floors shorter, so it’s more feasible to know others and be known on your floor.
“What we are really working towards in the whole college-living experience is for students to invest and engage wherever they are,” she continued. “That is a true living-learning experience.”