Randolph College Michels Athletic Center
Founded in 1891, Randolph College in Lynchburg, Va is considered an exceptional, nationally recognized science and liberal arts institution. Aside from their distinguished academic programs, the school strives to appeal to more student-athletes by broadening their NCAA athletics programs. Part of that development includes the multi-million dollar renovation of the Michels Athletic Center.
The MAC, as it’s called, was originally opened in 1960 and is the school’s main indoor sports facility. Swim teams compete in the six-lane pool while the basketball and volleyball teams play host in one of the loudest venues in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. With $7 million funding secured, the time had come for a renovation of the entire complex. State-of-the-art upgrades were made to the weight and fitness center, locker rooms, dance facilities, aerobics room, and administrative offices.
Randolph College’s renovation to the Michels Athletic Center puts their indoor sports facility on par with the top schools in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
Southern Air had multiple teams work on the design and renovation of the MAC. Our engineering and design teams made sense of old blueprints and drew up plans for upgraded heating, cooling, piping and electrical building systems. Southern Air’s Special Projects and Electrical Departments took care of the construction. The MAC was broken up into three phases. Being a renovation means demolition came first.
Renovations can be fun because they require a significant amount of demolition; music to the ears of anyone who like to smash things to pieces. Crews ripped out old boilers, duct work, piping and wiring before beginning the installation processes. Piping and ductwork connect new rooftop air units to the Frances and Don Giles Gymnasium, giving basketball and volleyball players a nice, air conditioned space to train during the heat of summer. We replaced sanitary piping, added bathrooms, updated locker rooms and ran drain lines for a new concession area.
This project was in full swing in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most of the country. Deemed essential workers, our crews braved the unknowns, adhered to new policies and procedures that seemed to come out daily, and kept their professional composure as they continued to build. The supply chains were affected, accounted for delays in material, sometimes taking months instead of weeks to arrive. None of that affected Southern Air’s ability to provide our customer with a building they love.
The final phase of this project focused on the enhancement of the natatorium, which proved to be as rewarding as it was challenging. Spectators might be torn where to cast their gaze between watching races and the scenic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. Randolph poured new floors, added insulation, installed energy-efficient windows, and sealed the ceiling tiles. Southern Air mechanics installed an Innovent rooftop heating and dehumidification system, which will greatly improve the air quality to the comfort of spectators inside. This system will dehumidify the natatorium naturally, by using large amounts of outside air, while significantly reducing operating and energy costs. The pool receives its heat from new boilers and heat exchangers our teams put in.
Southern Air’s electricians grounded the new diving stands, installed raceways for the scoring system and new LED lights to the pool area. They also did a masterful job of with the installation of the ceiling lighting. These lights had to be laid out and perfectly centered in ceiling tiles before they were sealed to prevent corrosion and deterioration to the building’s structural beams. Outside the pool, our electrical teams installed power for multiple rooftop units, replaced several old panels and ran miles of wire all while working around existing infrastructure.
The MAC is open! Student-athletes are lifting weights, the Women’s basketball team has started their season 3-0 and Randolph is scheduled to host a swim meet with Ferrum College in January. Check their schedules, grab a soda from the concession stand and come root for the Randolph Wildcats!
Great job to all the Southern Air tradespeople, managers, designers and pre-construction teams! The work you’ve done resulted in a beautiful building that will be boasted about and enjoyed by thousands of students, educators and families.