Columbia will unveil a brand-new wooden playing surface in Francis A. Levien Gymnasium this fall. The project, a cooperative effort between Columbia's department of facility management and its department of physical education and intercollegiate athletics, will cost nearly $1 million. Crews are beginning the final stages of the installation. The project is scheduled to be completed prior to September 13 when Columbia volleyball hosts the Columbia Classic Volleyball Tournament.
The renovation was needed to improve Levien's playing surface and to correct some mechanical problems with the previous floor. The improvements include a custom floor created by J.J. Curran of Connor Flooring Systems. The custom floor features 1.5-inch boards, different than the normal 2.25-inch boards. The thinner, more tightly-packed boards provide more stability for the surface.
"If a player jumps and lands 18 inches from another player, that player will not feel the impact of the other player," said Director of Physical Education and Intercollegiate Athletics John Reeves. "That will allow less impact on the legs and backs of our student-athletes which should decrease some injuries."
Prior to the installation of the floor, crews renovated the sewer lines that ran under the existing court. In their place is a system of recessed sewer lines with a blower system that reduces the humidity problems that previously have arisen. The recessed sewer lines also allow for a more ideal system of floor installation. Above the sewer lines are metal runners that are attached to a wooden frame to which the floor is connected. The result is a state-of-the-art floor that will provide better spring and cushion for Columbia's student-athletes.
"The restoration of the Levien Gymnasium was essential for the welfare of our student-athletes," said Reeves. "The advancements that this floor makes will provide our student-athletes with the optimal opportunity for success by lessening injuries and making Levien one of the most attractive venues in the Ivy League."
Levien Gymnasium was opened at the start of the 1974 season. It is the home competition venue for Lion volleyball, men's basketball, women's basketball and wrestling. Columbia's student body also has the opportunity to utilize the gymnasium for exercise and recreational purposes.