By REDEN D. MADRID
THE UNIVERSITY has begun demolishing the 78-year-old UST Gymnasium, paving the way for the construction of the Thomasian Alumni Center, the future “home for alumni” in the campus.
But to keep its historical value, being the oldest gym in the country and one of the first buildings in the campus, the facade will be retained, according to Gary del Rosario, RDR Demolition general manager.
Del Rosario added that the Olympic-sized swimming pool will be refurbished.
All athletic and sports equipment will be transferred to the new UST Sports Complex, which will be inaugurated in August, but items like trophies and commemorative plaques will be kept in the alumni center.
The Office for Alumni Relations, located at the Benavides Building (High School Building), will also be transferred to the center.
The five-story Thomasian Alumni Center will have a grand lobby, a “wall of honors”, four ballroom lobbies, 16 mini auditoria, and multi-function rooms.
Michael Angelo Malicsi, director of the Office for Alumni Relations, said the Thomasian Alumni Center is envisioned as a haven for alumni in UST.
"The center's primary service to the alumni is to strengthen their ties and communication with the University," Malicsi said.
The center's construction will start after the demolition of the gymnasium.
"Hopefully, the grand lobby of the Thomasian Alumni Center will be inaugurated in January 2012 in time of the closing of the Quadricentennial celebration," Malicsi said.
The construction is funded by donations from alumni and the US-based UST Medical Alumni Association Foundation, which had pledged $1 million for the construction of the center.
Because of the demolition of the gym, which started last April 6, the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA) has moved to a temporary office in the Beato Angelico Building.
IPEA department secretary Gilda Ma. Paz Kamus said the Facilities Management Office (FMO) set a notice three years ago to prepare to move into a new office.
“Everybody here in IPEA is flexible,” she said. When we transferred to Beato, it was fast.”
Kamus also said that that all materials and equipment of IPEA have been secured by the FMO.
“They (FMO) opened a warehouse in the Sports Complex to store our materials,” she said.
However, Kamus said athletes' training was “greatly affected.”
“All training is currently done outside the University. Coaches rent [courts and the like] outside for their training. Some teams train in Lyceum [of the Philippines University in Intramuros], while some teams do their training at Buddhacare Academy in Quezon City,” she said.
Once the Sports Complex is finished, the whole institute will immediately move to the building, Kamus said.
The multi-million Sports Complex, which started construction in 2009, will be a venue of some UAAP games and other important University activities, like graduation rites.
The UST Gymnasium, designed by Thomasian architect Fernando Ocampo, was completed on March 7, 1933. It was one of the first structures built in the campus and was the venue of the University’s commencement exercises from 1933 to 1950’s. It also housed the Conservatory of Music from 1946 to 1949.
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