The center was completed in two phases. The first phase, completed in 2005, contains the gyms and the fitness center, while the later phase, completed in 2010, contains the natatorium and fieldhouse.
The building is named for the late alumnus, trustee, and publishing executive Charles Bear. Bequests of more than $10 million from the estates of Bear and his partner, A. John Gambers, supported the construction of a natatorium and fieldhouse in the two-part state-of-the-art center. The bequests are among the largest combined gift distributions in the College's history.
The Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center houses:
- The 1,250 seat Darby Gymnasium, home of the Pioneer men’s and women’s basketball teams and volleyball team;
- A 500-seat natatorium with a 50-meter pool and movable bulkheads; and
- A six-lane 200-meter fieldhouse with seating for 400.
- An 8,000 square foot fitness center with cardiovascular and strength equipment;
- An auxillary practice gymnasium
In addition, the center houses the physical education and athletics staff and faculty, as well as classroom and practice space, climbing and bouldering walls, racquetball courts, locker rooms, equipment room, and a concession lounge with wireless Internet access and seating area.