WSU’s Outdoor Recreation Center Turns 30, Moves into New Facility

PULLMAN, Wash. — This is a time of landmarks for the Outdoor Recreation Center at Washington State University.

A service organization of the Associated Students of WSU, the ORC is a resource for students and other university community members to help them be prepared for and enjoy outdoor recreational experiences.

In early August, the center moved from the Compton Union Building, where it has been for 29 years, to a larger and newly remodeled location, the Hollingbery Fieldhouse Annex. During the 2001-02 academic year, the ORC, which started its life as the Outdoor Activities Program, will celebrate 30 years of service.

Witness to this history is Chris Tapfer. In his 26th year as ORC director, he helped start ORC as a WSU recreation student in 1971. He’s seen the ORC grow from 600 users at the beginning to about 25,000 users now.

The growth has come because of new and innovative services, Tapfer said. The ORC Web site,, has helped increase student awareness and use of ORC programs and equipment. “Almost all students are familiar with and use personal computers, so we make it as easy for them to reach us and get the information they need. We will continue to find ways to serve the students’ needs however we can.”

Moving the ORC from the CUB to Hollingbery Annex comes on the heels of the January opening of the Student Recreation Center. As a result, the student weight and cardio room in the annex was closed and its equipment sold as surplus. “The annex nearly doubles ORC’s space, gives us nearby parking and excellent access. It was a natural fit,” Tapfer said.

A beneficiary of the move is the ORC Rental Shop. “With nearly 3,800 square feet of space in the shop, compared to 1,500 square feet in the CUB, we will be able to provide more services and equipment options than we have had before,” said shop manager Nathan Deen.

Tapfer recalls ORC in 1971 sharing a 10-by-10-foot office with gym supervisors in the Physical Education Building. “The rental shop was a metal cabinet in the corner, and staff was a .25 full-time-equivalent graduate assistant and me, teaching classes and organizing trips,” he said.

From its humble beginning, the ORC today offers noncredit classes in a number of outdoor subjects, various trips including rafting, canoeing, kayaking, skiing/snowboarding, backpacking and day hiking, a full line of outdoor equipment rentals and an indoor climbing gym.

A grand opening for the ORC in its new location is set for Sept. 15 before the WSU Cougars-Colorado Buffalos football game starts in Martin Stadium.


Next Story

Robotic gripper for automated apple picking developed

A robotic gripper developed by WSU researchers was able to successfully grab more than 87.5% of the apples in an orchard without damaging the fruit.

Recent News

Celebrating Pride Month

WSU President Kirk Schulz shares a message of encouragement and support for national Pride Month.

WSU Vancouver dedicates new Life Sciences Building

The $63.8 million facility includes lab space for biology and chemistry, serving general educational needs for students and many foundational STEM courses.