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Photo gallery Bakke center qualities: nature, wellness, “one-stop shop” and welcoming atmosphere

September 25, 2023 By Seth Kruger

When helping to design the new Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center, student representatives on the design team focused on four qualities they wanted the center to include.

They were an emphasis on nature, specific space for wellness, a “one-stop shop” approach and a “welcoming to all” atmosphere, said Allison Dentice, a former RecWell employee who was one of two student representatives on the committee, along with Jackie Elliott. Both were spring 2021 graduates.

All four qualities were on display in the Bakke center at a Sept. 22 grand opening event to thank everyone who helped make it happen. Those attending included Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin as well as donors Jim and Sue Bakke, and Ginny and Mike Conway. Dentice was one of the speakers.

“Where the facility is located is absolutely gorgeous with the lake and the path,” Dentice said. “But, we also focused on this because, in our own experience, and studies back this up, nature and the outdoors really do have an impact on physical and mental health and well-being.”

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A large building with lots of windows is light inside, even as outside it darkens.

The Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center is lit up as dusk falls. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

People run on treadmills while looking out the window.

A treadmill workout at Bakke includes a beautiful view of Lake Mendota. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

A person swings a golf club in front of a screen picturing a golf hole.

A tour participant tries out their golf swing in Sport Simulators on the fourth level of Bakke at the Sept. 22 event. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

Several cycling machines are lined up in a

The cycling studio includes colorful lighting. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

People climb on a bouldering wall, with ropes holding them up.

The Mt. Mendota Climbing & Bouldering Wall on the third level supports bouldering, top roping, and sport climbing. The bouldering wall is 13 feet tall and the climbing wall is 32 feet tall. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

An overhead view of people weightlifting.

People lift weights on the first floor of the Bakke center. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

A person lays back in a pod.

Samantha Bakke Annen tries out a nap pod in the Rejuvenation Room. The room has three nap pods (available first-come-first-served) to use to rest, recharge, and relax with a 20-minute nap. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

Students work together to cook meals in the  the Wolf Teaching Kitchen.

Students work together to cook meals in the the Wolf Teaching Kitchen. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

Two women hold basketballs on a basketball courts.

Students practice their jump shots on four full-size basketball courts on the third floor. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

A woman speaks at a podium.

Recent alumna Allison Dentice speaks at the grand opening event. Photo by: Althea Dotzour

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The students on the design committee also favored the wellness suite, where people can focus specifically on wellness.

“That’s where we see the nap pods, the massage rooms, things like that within the building,” she said. “This building really demonstrates how well-being is not just physical.”

Another focus item arose out of the fact that Bakke is on the west side of campus, and not centrally located. So they wanted students to be able to accomplish multiple things on their to-do lists when visiting the Bakke, so that a trip there needs to be worth it, Dentice said.

From this came the idea of a “one-stop shop” offering a wide range of features including cardio, weightlifting, cooking, dancing, sport simulators, mental health and wellness, a rock wall and even a protein shake station.

And of course, they wanted the facility to be welcoming to everyone, with features such as gender-neutral locker rooms. “I know they say, ‘you belong at Bakke’ but we used the locker rooms as a way to make people really believe that saying,” Dentice said.

Now that the center is fully open for the UW-Madison community, Allison knows what she did as an undergraduate will leave a lasting mark on the community for many years to come.

“Ten, 15, 20, 30 years from now, people will continue to use this building. All I can say is that I’m incredibly thankful and honored to have the opportunity to be a part of it,” she said.

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