By Becky Roozen Published Sep 30, 2004 at 5:04 AM

{image1}What used to be a parking lot a little north of Juneau Avenue (bordered by Broadway, Market and Knapp Streets), is now the site of Milwaukee School of Engineering's innovative recreation, athletic, health and wellness facility, the Kern Center, 1245 N. Broadway, due to open Oct. 29.

The 210,000 square-foot brick and glass building comprises some major elements: a spacious main entrance/atrium and fitness pavilion, basketball arena, hockey rink, field house and an office block. And natural lighting is extensive in this structure because of the profusion of windows and glass walls.

"This is an engineering school, and we really want to showcase engineering," Will Wright, superintendent of Hunzinger Construction Co., says of the architectural features.

{image2}The dedication of the Kern Center will be the weekend of Friday, Oct. 29, and after that MSOE students will have full-fledged access to the 1,600-seat hockey arena, 1,200-seat basketball arena, field house, running track, wrestling area (complete with padded walls), rehabilitation room, counseling and health services and underground parking for 50 vehicles.

Complementing the suspended, four-lane running track, the field house lodges three full-size volleyball courts, two full-size tennis courts, a pit for long jumping and pole vaulting and a batting cage for baseball.

Adding to the unique design of the center is the hanging cardio platform that hovers just above the open concession area (water, juice, bagels and other beverages and snacks will be available). Like the track, this area is engulfed by glass walls, letting sunshine in and allowing for a great view out to the streets below.

{image3}Each of MSOE's 28 varsity sports will have its own locker room, and access to the hydrotherapy and whirlpool in the rehabilitation center. To keep in school spirit, the center is adorned with red and black -- the school's colors -- from head to toe.

But this facility goes beyond physical fitness, according to Wright.

"The Kern's vision is that physical health is just as important as mental health," he says. To accommodate this interest there is space specifically designated for campus ministry, counseling and confidential conversations.

For construction updates and more information, the Kern Center's Web site is