Nearly 1,000 members of the Claremont McKenna College community gathered for the Roberts Pavilion Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Sept. 30, a day of celebration several years in the making. CMC’s plan for a campus fitness, athletics, and events center began over a decade ago as a possible renovation of the venerable Ducey Gymnasium.
“I started working on this project 11 years ago,” said Trustee Kenneth Novack ’67, chair of the Campus Planning and Facilities Committee. “It started out as a renovation of Ducey Gymnasium and here we are 11 years later in something that is far more significant than a renovation.”
Over the years, the project evolved into Roberts Pavilion, a building much grander in scope, functionality, and sparkle than what would have been possible with a reworking of Ducey Gym.
“Just think about what this space does and what can be done with all of it in a short period of time,” said George Roberts ’66 P’93. “It has really surpassed, quite frankly, anything my imagination and desires were.”
With Mr. Roberts and the Roberts family on hand for the dedication, the CMC community as a whole had its opportunity to say thank you to the Roberts family and everyone involved in the project and to revel in the excitement surrounding the official opening of Roberts Pavilion.
“This is a spectacular facility for competition and for fitness and for health and for well being,” CMC President Hiram Chodosh said. “And beyond that, it’s an amazing place for our community to come and be together, to enjoy the views, and to enjoy one another.”
The afternoon began with building tours and numerous dedication activities. Guests gathered in the lobby and listened to musical performances by the After School Specials a capella group and three other student groups, snapped pictures in the ribbon-cutting photo booth, exercised in the Nakasone Family Fitness Center, wandered through the Art Showcase presented by CMC’s Student Art Council, played ping pong, worked out in fitness classes, learned about Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ athletic history on the touch screens in the Ted Ducey CMS Hall of Fame, played pick-up basketball on Ali Mirza ’15 Recreational Court, and much more. The Art Showcase featured artwork by 11 different student artists, ranging from photography to graphic design work.
“I think it’s important to show the community that Roberts Pavilion isn’t just for athletics, which is kind of the common assumption from everyone,” Kris Brackmann ’17 said. “I am glad the Art Council could be part of the grand opening and we didn’t just put on one thing. We had music, interactive painting and the Art Showcase, so there was a lot going on which makes the Pavilion seem like a multi-dimensional building, which it is.”
For many in attendance, Friday proved to be their first in-person look at Roberts Pavilion, the three-level fitness and events center that includes a main arena, fitness center, recreation gym, team rooms, CMS athletic department offices, weight room, fitness studios, and training room. Others had been in the building previously but remain impressed each time they return.
“Roberts Pavilion is just an amazing building,” Milan Reed ’11 said. “It’s a little hard to grasp just how impactful the building is when looking at the building from outside because it looks like it is just about the same footprint as Ducey [Gym]. But when you walk in, you realize just how big and beautiful the building is.”
Evident during the dedication event and in the design of Roberts Pavilion itself is the emphasis CMC, its leadership, and the architects placed on striking a balance between athletics, fitness, and the campus community as a whole.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony in the main arena, President Chodosh led off the program with remarks on the importance of the balance between community, fitness, and intercollegiate athletics.
“Each turn of the treadmill, click of the scoreboard, spoken word heard in dialogue, line of advice at an affair or community event, and each musical riff honors the Pavilion by breathing even more powerful experiences into it, expanding and tightening the social fabric, and realizing the singular value of our Claremont communities,” Chodosh said. “Thus, this monumental facility remains in a way, soft clay in our hands for each of us to shape.”
President Chodosh also thanked and paid tribute to all involved in the building process and he referenced the many individuals from the College and CMS Athletics that laid the groundwork for construction of the Pavilion.
Architect John Friedman, Mr. Novack, Chair of the Board of Trustees David Mgrublian ’82 P’11, and Mr. Roberts were among the speakers. An 11-minute video presentation recapped some of the major milestones from the building process and included interviews and thank you messages from a few of the key contributors to the project as well as several students.
Mr. Roberts then closed the program by highlighting his hopes for the use of Roberts Pavilion: the promotion of physical health and wellness, the ability to attract excellent student-athletes and a venue used for open discussion.
“Look at all the events that can be brought into this place,” Roberts said. “With all the students together, all the faculty together, and speakers from the outside world, folks can really listen to each other and figure out a way to solve problems. And I think the more we listen to people with diverse backgrounds and different ideas, obviously the stronger we will all become and that’s my biggest hope for this Pavilion.”
The ribbon cutting capped the program and included the individuals who spoke at the event, along with the family of Mr. Roberts.
“As I have said many times before, as an events center, this is our campus center. It is the beating heart of the CMC campus and a wonderful facility for CMS Athletics,” Mgrublian said. “But it really is going to be the community center for CMC. This is where we gather, this is where we dialogue, this is where we hear great speakers, this is where we can be as a community, the CMC community.”
All aspects of Roberts Pavilion were on display during the dedication ceremony. The day’s events showed that the facility is indeed the “beating heart” of the campus and is a place where the CMC community will come together for many years to come.