Reopened MAC Gym Sports Subtle Changes

New showers, accessible ramps greet students as exercise spot opens doors

Unnamed photo
Santosh P. Bhaskarabhatla

The Malkin Athletic Center (MAC) reopened for use on Tuesday after months of renovation. Pictured is the newly refinished MAC basketball court.

There’s that new-paint smell and some spiffier bathrooms, but the improvements to the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC) are mostly too subtle to impress students, according to gym-goers interviewed yesterday.

After the MAC closed for improvements last March, athletes migrated to Hemenway Gymnasium. Students said working out at the TV-outfitted, air-conditioned law school gym fed high expectations for the MAC’s re-opening Tuesday.

“I thought they were going to do something with it like add another floor or something crazy like that,” said Shane P. Donovan ‘09, an Eliot House resident and captain of the club tennis team.

But the improvements were less flashy: New showers, more fire doors, fresh plumbing, and a new ceiling over the pool.

The MAC is more fire-ready, with more doors and a new sprinkler system. And it’s more accessible, with new ramps for students with disabilities.

Before the changes, “the systems were bad, [and] the infrastructure was failing,” Associate Director of Athletics

Jeremy L. Gibson said earlier this month.

Many of the renovations also aimed to make the building more eco-friendly.

“It does make it more environmentally efficient. They changed the toilet flushers and I bet the paper towels are more environmentally friendly, too,” said Sarah A. Hinkfuss ’10 of Mather House.

Older observers agreed that the changes aren’t too flashy.

“It’s not that different,” said David K. Lee ’04, who is currently a student at Harvard Medical School. “The layout is almost exactly the same. At least the weight rooms are mostly in the same places as they were. Except for the smell of fresh paint, it’s not that huge of a difference.”

Some said they weren’t too enthused because they’d been hoping for televisions over elliptical machines, like at Hemenway.

“The facilities are pretty much the same,” Donovan said. “It seems that that’s not how it was publicized to the undergrads.”

But others said they’re pleased with the MAC’s re-opening.

“I don’t know how much we actually see, but it’s definitely cleaner,” said Patrick J. Ziemnik ’08, Kirkland resident and a Harvard wrestler who practices at the MAC. “One thing they did change is the bathrooms, which are a lot nicer.”

The location can’t be beat, Ziemnik said.

“I’m just glad to be close to Kirkland,” he said. “That’s what makes it really nice that it’s re-opened.”