August 08, 2016, BY Matt Hughes

The Graham Building, a new 36,000-square-foot addition to the Bucknell University campus that opened Aug. 1, brings together campus health, wellness and athletic resources in a central hub.

  • It's a world-class training facility for the Bison wrestling team to rival the best campus training centers in the United States.

  • It provides needed space for Bucknell Student Health and the Counseling & Student Development Center, bringing those services together in a space central to student life.

  • It supports a growing campus wellness initiative by offering a dedicated space for programming for students, faculty and staff.

The building, a $12 million investment, was created through a gift in excess of $7 million by alumnus and Trustee Emeritus Bill Graham '62, who also created an endowment to support maintenance of the building.

Bill Graham ’62. Photo by Lewisburg Studio

"Bucknell helped me develop into the person I am, and I think it's important to try to pay back a small part of what you've gotten from an institution," said Graham, a four-year wrestler who was captain of the team in 1961. "I think it's important to give back after all I've taken away, and I think more people should do that."

Graham was also instrumental in bringing wrestling back after Bucknell dropped the program in 2001, and the new wrestling and wellness complex is his second major gift in just over a decade. A prior gift of approximately $8 million led to the installation of Graham Field for field hockey and women's lacrosse, created an endowment to support women's varsity sports — primarily women's crew — and allowed the wrestling program to regain varsity status in 2006­–07.

World-Class Training Facility
The building's second floor houses a dedicated, state-of-the-art training facility for the Bison wrestling team, one wrestling Head Coach Dan Wirnsberger called "the best wrestling-specific training facility in the country."

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The mat room in the Graham Wrestling Center. Click and drag to rotate image. Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

It features a 50-foot-by-100-foot mat room providing enough space for 36 wrestlers to grapple simultaneously in 18 circles, as well as a fitness area with weight benches and exercise equipment. Next to the mat room are a weigh-in area, coaches' offices, team room and a glass-walled trainer's office with hydrotherapy and ice baths, which allows coaches to keep an eye on recuperating wrestlers. One of the facility's most high-tech features is the camera system mounted in the ceiling above the mats, which provides instant-replay capability via monitors along the walls, allowing wrestlers to observe and adjust their technique in near-real time.

"The cameras in the wrestling room are going to be awesome," said Victor Lopez '17, captain of the Bison wrestling team. "It's easier to learn by watching yourself than by having someone else tell you what to do."

The space also gives the wrestling squad its own locker room. Unlike other teams with private facilities, wrestling had been sharing the same men's locker room as the campus fitness center. It's a crucial addition for team bonding, Wirnsberger said.

The Graham Wrestling Center features a weight and fitness training area adjacent to the mat room. Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

Both Wirnsberger and Graham believe the training center will give Bucknell an edge in recruiting, helping an already strong program competing in one of the most competitive college leagues achieve greater success.

"It's important for recruits to know that besides being a great wrestling center, Bucknell is probably the best teaching institution you can go to," Graham added. 

A Campus Wellness Hub
The Graham Building will also act as a wellness hub on campus, bringing student health, the Counseling Center, and wellness services together in a common location. Its first floor houses Bucknell Student Health, the Counseling & Student Development Center and a new Wellness Center, which provides space for faculty and staff wellness initiatives as well as student-focused programming.

The health center and counseling center have their own dedicated entrance facing Seventh Street, and each has a separate waiting area, providing privacy for students. The new location of the counseling center also helps to destigmatize mental health services, said Kelly Kettlewell, a psychologist and director of the center, something the center works hard to do.

The Seventh Street entrance to the Graham Building provides access to Student Health and the Counseling & Student Development Center. Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

"Being more centrally located on campus in a high-traffic area will be important in terms of raising awareness of our mental-health services on campus," Kettlewell said. "Mental health can't just be a counseling center issue — it has to be a whole campus investment."

Both the health and counseling center areas provide ample room for those initiatives to grow. Both are also planning to take advantage of the Wellness Center Learning Lab — a large multipurpose space that can be divided into two rooms or opened to the main lobby via movable partitions — to offer wellness programming. The counseling center also contains a large conference room, which will allow it to increase group therapy and support group offerings for students.

Examination rooms in the Graham Building feature all new medical equipment. Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

The Graham Building doubles the space available for the health center, allowing medical staff to provide services much more efficiently to the average of 50 to 60 patients seeking care each day during the academic year. It  includes 10 examination rooms supplied with new examination equipment. The center — which is staffed through a joint venture of Geisinger Health System and Evangelical Community Hospital — also contains a procedure room for stitches, splints, electrocardiogram screens and other minor medical procedures; a pharmacy stocked with frequently prescribed medications; a self-care area providing over-the-counter medications; and a medical laboratory. There are also offices for an insurance liaison and a nutritionist.

"It's like a family medical office plus urgent care," said Dr. Catherine O'Neil, medical director. "Because most of the students aren't local, we provide a lot of care here, including care for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma."

Student Health and the Counseling & Student Development Center each have their own waiting and registration areas. Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

Like Kettlewell, O'Neil also hopes to take advantage of the new Learning Lab space in the Wellness Center to offer wellness-themed programming, such as mindfulness programming, origami for health and vocal wellness for student singers.

"With the added visibility our new location provides, there's a lot we can do to promote wellness, and I want to move in that direction," O'Neil said.

A Seamless Addition
Creating a space to meet the multiple functions  of the Graham Building was challenging, said Project Manager Justin Salyards of Bucknell Facilities. Making it blend seamlessly into the existing environment, while also maintaining its own identity, added another layer to that challenge.

To help it blend with adjacent structures and the Georgian-style campus architecture, Bucknell worked with firm EwingCole to create a structure echoing the panels atop Sojka Pavilion, extend the colonnade outside Kinney Natatorium and clad the building in the same signature brick used in the adjoining buildings and throughout campus: Bucknell Blend brick laid in the Flemish bond pattern. Like all new construction at Bucknell, the building was designed to exceed LEED Silver standards for energy efficiency and sustainable design.

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The lobby of the Graham Building. Click and drag to rotate image. Photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

To give the building its own identity, the designers set it back from Sojka, and gave it a signature entry space. Upon entering the building's main lobby, visitors encounter a 14-foot-tall image of a bison gazing down at them above the entrance to the new Wellness Center.

"The architect was excited about that," Salyards said. "His goal was that the first time people came into the building and saw it, they'd say 'Wow.' I've heard that 'wow' a few times already."

The health center and counseling center began moving to the Graham Building Aug. 1 and will have relocated in time for new student orientation Aug. 17.