ARC: Tech-Rec - Activies and Recreation Center Services Put Low-Tech Gyms to Shame

More than just a great place to work out, the new Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) is an advanced multi-use facility. As Marketing and Member Services Manager Michael Vero points out, "technology was hugely involved in the plan" for the building. All the standard features of a gym are augmented by conference rooms and a ballroom - UC Davis' first!

While faculty and staff make use of the advanced recreational facilities, large numbers also employ the conference rooms. The ARC was designed to be more than a gym. "When we sat down to look at what the building would encompass," says Vero, "there were a lot of different elements that the building was going to have." Though designed with input from students, and paid for in part by student fees, the building also includes conference and event facilities used by campus units to fill increasing need for meeting space.

Equipped with wired and wireless networking capabilities, the conference rooms also incorporate advanced equipment for displaying presentations. DVD players, televisions, overhead projectors, and other media equipment are available to presenters at events. Each room allows users to project presentations or live Web sites onto video screens and is ready to be equipped with flat-panel monitors once the cost of such monitors becomes affordable.

The building is also host to the only ballroom in the Davis area. Divisible into two smaller rooms, the 400-person room features music cast from a central computer that coordinates the sound system for the entire building. Each of the two mini-ballrooms also has its own projector and screen, useful for slideshows at weddings, reunions, meetings, and conventions.

Already, these new facilities have gotten a lot of use; the ARC hosts an average of four to five events a week, and during a six-day period in October, fourteen events were held - including a Bob Dylan concert.

By far, however, the feature of the ARC that gets the most use from individual users - aside from the exercise equipment - is the wireless network that covers a large part of the building. Staff, faculty, and students can relax while checking email in the stylishly - outfitted lobby, prop up a laptop in the Center Court Cafe, or take advantage of the more hushed environment in the Cyber Lounge. The ARC offers a hospitable place to browse the Internet, letting faculty and staff work and relax before and after working out.

If you don't have your laptop with you, you can use the Cyber Lounge, a small computer room just off the main entrance. Computer use here is restricted to fifteen minutes - the computers function like the quick-access stations in other labs. Dan Shuldman, Network Systems Administrator, cautions, however, that there is "usually not a free computer" in the evening, ARC's busiest period.

Gym-lovers should note that technology at the ARC extends well beyond personal computers; to entertain patrons while they exercise, a central computer pipes music to all workout areas and fitness classrooms, and several cardio machines have been equipped with their own personal televisions and remote controls. More generally, the building administration relies on computers to trace equipment check-outs, gym usage, and court reservations.

Faculty and staff alike have welcomed the ARC, and paid memberships among these two groups are increasing. If you haven't yet toured the new ARC, do yourself a favor and stop by for a visit. Those of you who enter having in mind the old Rec Hall will be awed by the difference a bit of technology - and a whole lot of space - makes.

Folks interested in reserving ARC conference rooms should consult the "Conferencing" page on the ARC Web site: Gym membership information is available through the same site on the "Member Services" page.