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Construction workers work on the north entrance into Quinn Coliseum on the campus of Eastern Oregon University Wednesday. Soon the entrance will be unrecognizable. The low doorway at the current entry-point will be replaced by a two-story glass enclosure as part of a $13.17 million renovation project on the building, which was constructed in 1957. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Quinn Coliseum undergoing $13.1M in renovations to transform building into campus showcase
Quinn Coliseum was constructed in 1957, the same year the first portable electric typewriter was sold in the United States.
Today, typewriters are almost museum pieces but Quinn Coliseum is entering the most exciting chapter in its history.
A $13.17 million renovation project is under way at Quinn, one which will dramatically transform the building, which houses all the indoor athletic facilities at Eastern Oregon University.
“(Quinn Coliseum after its renovations) will definitely be a magnet,” EOU President Bob Davies. “It will be drawing people in.”
Plans call for major renovations to the main gym, including a mezzanine-level VIP seating area and a new scoreboard. The old Quinn swimming pool will be converted into a regulation-sized practice gym, and an aerobics room and student computer lab will be built, along with heating system renovations.
“The building will be more welcoming. There is an air of excitement,” Davies said.
The centerpiece of the construction, however, is on the building’s main north entrance. The low doorway will be replaced by an enclosed two-story glass enclosure. The vestibule is designed to make the entrance stand out like a beacon.
“There will never be any doubt about where the main entrance is,” said David Lageson, director of facilities and planning at EOU.
The entryway will be more spacious because offices now present in the area will be removed and rebuilt in another part of the building.
People standing in the vestibule will be able to see the action taking place on the main Quinn Coliseum court because of large windows that will be installed in the north wall of the gym.
The mezzanine-level VIP space in the gym will be built on the upper level of the east side bleachers. EOU boosters and wheelchair-bound fans will be able to watch games from the space. They will be able to reach the skybox-type setting via an elevator.
Lageson is excited about the opportunities the mezzanine site will provide to the physically challenged. He noted that people who use wheelchairs have told him that watching games at Quinn is difficult because they often cannot see over fans. Lageson said the elevators and mezzanine seating will far exceed federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
“This will address the spirit of accessibility,” Lageson said.
The mezzanine area will serve as a student lounge and study area when sporting events are not taking place in Quinn, said EOU women’s basketball coach and interim athletic director Anji Weissenfluh.
Weissenfluh is delighted with the many additions and transformations being made at Quinn.
“I’m excited. We will have a building we can really be proud of,” Weissenfluh said.
She noted that the improvements will help significantly when recruiting student-athletes.
The additional practice gym will be most welcome by Weissenfluh because it will make it much easier to schedule practices for a multiple number of teams at times that accommodate students’ class schedules. Quinn will have three gyms once the new one at the site of the old swimming pool, which was closed about seven years ago, is complete.
Much of the work in Quinn is designed to make it easier for people to get from one place to another. Case in point: an east-west corridor on the south side of Quinn will be built, making it possible to move from one side of the building to the other.
Davies is delighted to see this and other steps like it being taken.
“There were lot of roadblocks which were not conducive to flow. (The openness) will make the building more welcoming,” Davies said.
Lageson said the openness created by additions like the two-story glass entryway will add to the building’s sense of vitality.
“It will make it easy to feel the energy of the building,” he said.
The project is being funded by capital construction lottery bonds approved by the Oregon Legislature.
Fortis Construction of Portland is the general contractor for the project. The design work is being done by SERA Architects of Portland.
The work on the north entrance and the mezzanine-level seating area in the main gym will be completed early this fall. The entire project will be finished sometime next summer, Lageson said.
Weissenfluh said many of the changes will make it easy for people to get a sense for all of the activity taking place in Quinn.
“A lot is going on behind closed doors,” she said. “This will allow people to see it, feel it, hear it or all of the above.”