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MAC Survey Nearly Done

Major renovations will likely follow for gym

By David C. Newman, Crimson Staff Writer

The survey of athletic and recreational facilities controlled by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) will wrap up in about a month, according to the firm doing the analysis—a survey that will probably pave the way for large-scale renovation of the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC).

“We’re almost done,” said Dick Friedson, the HNTB Corp. architect in charge of the project.

Friedson said his firm had hoped to give its report to Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles by the end of October.

Though that deadline has not been met, the report will be coming out earlier than Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 had expected, anticipating that he would be waiting until the winter for its release.

The report will likely bring Harvard one step closer to a significant—with a price tag in the tens of millions of dollars—renovation of the MAC, administrators have said.

Knowles has said that such a renovation will likely include moving the varsity wrestling, fencing and volleyball teams across the river, where the rest of the Athletic Department currently resides.

A new MAC might include new floor space above the swimming pool, office space for student groups and 24-hour access, according to Lewis.

“There are a lot of recommendations that are on the table,” Friedson said.

“[But] there is a lot of enthusiasm to convert the Malkin Center to what I’d call recreational space,” he added.

Friedson said this includes space for aerobics classes, yoga and dance, as well as for more fitness equipment.

This summer, FAS replaced old equipment at the MAC and made what FAS Director of Physical Resources Michael N. Lichten called “cosmetic changes.”

The big changes Lewis and Knowles anticipate are much further off.

For one thing, Lewis has not announced an end to his fundraising for the project. As many as five months ago, Lewis said he was frustrated that the fundraising had not been completed—though as long as FAS is waiting on HNTB’s report, money is not what is holding up the renovation.

MAC benefactor Peter L. Malkin ’55 said he thinks there may be some money left over in a “maintenance endowment” from his original $4 million donation in 1985 (which matched the amount given by Harvard) to renovate the MAC.

Malkin said Lewis told him last year that the MAC would be undergoing “a significant enhancement” but that the improvements would have to wait for the “master plan” that is being formulated now by HNTB, FAS and the Athletic Department.

“I feel that certain things were deferred,” said Malkin, who said that he presented former Athletic Director William J. Cleary ’56 with suggestions for improvements after reading Crimson articles portraying the MAC as a substandard facility.

“I don’t mean to be negative about [Cleary],” he said, “but I think [new Athletic Director Robert L. Scalise will] come in with a new, fresh approach to things.”

Malkin said he understands the need to treat the MAC as part of a larger planning effort and trusts Harvard to do the right thing in the end.

But it is unclear if Harvard expects any help from Malkin.

Though Lewis announced in February his intention to raise tens of millions—many times the sum Malkin paid to get his name on the facility—Malkin said that he has not yet been solicited for a large donation.

—Staff writer David C. Newman can be reached at dnewman@fas.harvard.edu.

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