Almost finished, its completionwill be officially celebrated during Homecoming in October

    The University of Minnesota Crookston Wellness Center is close to completion and it’s easy to see why everyone is excited. During a private tour with the UMC Alumni Board (the Times’ Assistant Editor Jess Bengtson is on the board) and UMC’s Director of Facilities and Operations Dave Danforth, the group got a firsthand look at what will soon be the campus hot spot.

    The wellness facility is approximately 36,000 square feet and features a two-court recreational gymnasium space, workout and fitness spaces, locker rooms, public spaces, a classroom and multipurpose room. It is a welcome addition on the west side of UMC’s current Sports Center that houses Lysaker Gymnasium.

    Danforth said some unique features of the center include LED lighting that is also motion and daylight controlled, bird-safe glass, a fitness-on-demand kiosk (exercisers can queue up the type of exercise they want to do and a screen will project the corresponding video), special flooring from Italy, wellness-based art work throughout the facility, key cards for students to come and go as they please, and an 18-kilowatt photovoltaic array on the roof that will provide some of the power needed to run the building.

    There are plenty of exercise room options for students including the multipurpose room for yoga, aerobics and the fitness-on-demand kiosk, gymnasium (striped for high school standards) with four basketball hoops and shot clocks, a second-floor walking/running track that surrounds the interior of the building, weights area (similar to a fitness club), cardio and stretching areas, and a lounge area for those between classes and exercising.

    Another new-age feature of the Wellness Center will be the classroom that will feature a biometrics lab that can measure a person’s physical characteristics like their BMI (body mass index), check their respiration rates while they wear a mask and run on a treadmill, along with a Bod Pod that uses whole body densitometry to determine body composition (fat vs. lean).

    On the outside of the building, the planting beds were designed by a class taught by Eric Castle as a landscape design project.

    “A group of the grounds crew, architects and operations were presented with four class designs and we decided to incorporate items from each of the designs for the landscaping,” explained Danforth during the tour. “The trees were chosen by the Natural Resources department and all plants are native so they’re drought-resistant.”

    “We also tried to keep as much of the labor as local as possible,” he added. “We used Bergstrom Electric for the electrical and alarm work, Bingham Construction for concrete, Peterson Sheet Metal for HVAC, and G&R Controls out of Fargo that allow us to remotely-control the HVAC system for the building.”

    While the Wellness Center will, at this time, be only open to UMC students, community tours can be taken during the campus’ Grand Opening and Homecoming weekend October 14-15, 2016.

    “We purposely do not want to compete with other local fitness centers,” said Public Relations Communication Consultant Elizabeth Tollefson. “The need for the Wellness Center in the first place was primarily to address student wellness and recreational issues.”

    To view the progress on interior construction of the new Wellness Center (as well as a time-lapse video of the exterior construction), view the live cam online at


    During the 2014 Legislative session, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed the bonding bill that included state funding for several projects for the University of Minnesota system. One of which was a $10 million allocation for the Wellness Center at the Crookston campus.

    With an initial budget of $15 million including a $1 million gift from Les and June Nielsen, coordinators say they are projecting to complete the project on budget. The entrance/lobby of the new campus wellness facility will be named after the Nielsens in memory of their son, Mitch Lien Nielsen.

    “The Nielsen family has always placed a high priority on education,” said Fred Wood, chancellor of the U of M Crookston, after the gift was announced in September 2014. “This most recent gift demonstrates once again the Nielsen’s appreciation for the University and their wish to support the Crookston campus.”

    “This project is a testament to the ‘can do’ collaborative partnerships that are a hallmark of this remarkable region, community and campus,” he added. “The Wellness Center will assist with student success by helping us recruit, retain and graduate our students. It will strengthen our academic mission and teach our students to be well-rounded individuals.”