Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #2

What's the problem here? Getting started on your athletic pavilion design.

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Gerald Ratner Athletics Center at the University of Chicago

Design Challenge Background

The challenge is to redesign your high school’s athletic facilities into an athletic pavillion. With national organizations emphasizing the importance of regular phyical activity to combat obesity, these spaces are more important (and used!) than ever. They are becoming communty spaces and spaces for connecting, cheering, and improving lifestyles.

Design Challenge Brief

You may redesign the interior of the existing athletic facilities, expand on the existing spaces, or design a completely new addition on to your school building. Your design should contain all the spaces and functions required for typical school athletic facilities – locker rooms, athletic equipment storage rooms, concession stands, trophy cases, water fountains, offices for athletics staff, bathrooms, exercise and weight rooms, and, of course, gym spaces. The redesigned pavillion should include ideas for both old and new ideas for athletic facilities. You should also consider sustainability issues and the environmental impact of your design.

For your Overview, it is important to post a short, but clear, ‘success statement’ that communicates the goals you hope to solve and achieve through your design solutions. When you’re nearly finished with your design project, you can go back to this success statement to see if your design has met the criteria you first proposed.

The following images show various aspects of Advanced Technologies Academy's current gym as well as its surrounding campus buildings and landscaping strategies. As one of the various magnet schools in the Las Vegas valley, Advanced Technologies Academy has been a highly distinguished school for many years with several national recognition's, which include two Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Awards in 2003 and 2011. A-Tech Focuses mainly on academics coupled with an intense integration of technology, offering several program areas for students, such as: Architecture Design, Engineering, Legal Studies, Business, Computer Graphics, Information Technologies, and Networking. While providing an ample supply of technological resources enhancing students education, since A-TECH does not have school sponsored teams it lacks a well-functioning athletic center and or gym space that inspires pride and school spirit to the overall student body.

The Design Problem: Besides being completely isolated from the rest of the school, A-TECH's current gymnasium is completely outdated and lacks many abilities of the criteria commonly found in most of the more modern high school gymnasiums. The structure of the building alone serves as a obvious example of how outdated the design considerations are when looking at the use of space. Another sure sign of outdated design is the window placement which does not take advantage of the sun's path to provide free light. Another major problem is the entrance and exit points are for most visitors difficult to find and poorly placed, causing confusion for guests and parents who attend various open houses and school wide promotion events throughout the year. Furthermore, the dull grey concrete building materials do are not aesthetically pleasing, Nor are the interior and exterior facades able to provide any visual interests and/or focal points to the design. Lastly, because this building was constructed years ago like many of the schools in the valley before population expanded into the numbers we have today, the size of each component within the gymnasium is outdated and does not comply with the changing demands of the increasing P.E. class sizes and required space for extracurricular events.

The Design Solution: In order to properly update the gym's facilities to a more logical orientation and reallocate the spaces within the current design to better match their desired functions, I propose to begin a completely new gymnasium: one that incorporates several aspects of modern design while simultaneously adhering to certain ADA regulations required for its potential users as well as several aspects of universal design that will ensure the sustainability of its overall life cycle, and its energy performance for countless years to come by using modern materials. The two story gymnasium will accommodate a several needs with the use of multi-purpose spaces including second floor classrooms, exercise rooms, locker rooms/restrooms, indoor track, gender specific weight rooms, racquetball courts, equipment storage, the actual gym itself, and other appropriate building attributes that a typical high school athletic gym would include. Exterior wise, the adjacent field and existing basketball courts will be incorporated to the design with well defined walkways and water-efficient landscaping strategies that will not only promote a healthy student-to-student interaction, but will also aid in combining each of A-TECH's other exterior spaces to work in harmony with one another to create a unique space that will ultimately provide A-TECH with a much more proud, school spirited, and healthier student population.


Very clear and concise stated problem and solution.

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In the Collect Info step of the design process, gather as much information as possible about your school's existing athletic facilities, both indoor and outdoor. You also want to learn as much as you can about the students and staff who will use it. You can't propose new solutions until you figure out and document what the existing problems are. 

Try This

  • Take note of unsafe conditions or conditions that do not make sense (For example, not enough storage for soccer equipment; no place for fans to buy popcorn at events; no place for athletes to change clothes or store belongings).
  • Interview your school's athletic director, student athletes from various sports, and other staff and ask them what they like and dislike about the current facilities. What changes would they make to spaces if they had a choice?
  • Make a list of the features that you really like about how your athletic facilities look and function.
  • Make a separate list of all the ways your current athletic facilities are not so well designed.
  • Calculate the number of sports played at your school and the number of student athletes who play those sports. Consider how this information will affect your new athletic pavilion. How many teams will need to practice at the same time?
    • Do an analysis at different times of the day, week, or school year and create a chart or diagram with average usage and high / low points.
    • Do an analysis of the different types of equipment used by each sport. How much storage space is there currently? Is it enough? Too much?
  • Visit Flickr or another photo sharing site and search for other types of athletic facilities or gymnasioums to determine good and bad examples of how these can accommodate user’s needs.
  • Post images of buildings, colors, designs, textures, or other things that inspire you in this step. Make sure you give credit to your source!
  • Research other schools, universities, or public centers to determine good / bad examples of how athletic equipment and gear is stored and if anything is done to accommodate student athletes and the fans who use these outdoor facilities. What inspires you?

Trexy's work for the Collect Information step:

I gathered information regarding our school's gymnasium by going outside to our field taking exterior and interior photos, I am mainly focusing on its weak and strong points.
This is the Aerial View of A-Tech,provided by Google map. The property is separated with the main...
The aerial perspective of A-Tech Campus. This Image shows an aerial view of the entire campus. Our...
These pictures show how the main school gymnasium looks today. I took various pictures in different...
Landscape Features: This picture shows us the current landscape around A-TECH's gym that...
This is the original main entrance of our A-TECH gymnasium with the current landscape features.
This is the Structure of the Main Building of the gym. It show some unfinished worked and it's...
Current A-Tech Gym Floor Plan - This image shows the floor plan of A-TECH's current gym and...

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Columbia University Campbell Sports Center © Iwan Baan

In the Brainstorm Ideas step of the design process, you start to be inspired by new places and you put some early ideas down on paper that show what you've found in the Collect Info step. You also might take more photos to show specific new ideas you have. 

The simple diagrams you make here will help you understand how the existing library location and design compare with your new ideas.

Try This

  • Draw a floorplan of your existing facilities. How are all of the different athletic spaces connected? What are the different pathways you can take through all of these spaces? Map all of these rooms and spaces.
  • Use Google Maps to view and print out an aerial photo of your school. Take measurements of the overall dimensions of your existing athletic facilities, both indoor and outdoor and use the aerial to map out the measurements.
  • Post this aerial map and sketch here so everyone can understand the relationship between your school building, the athletic fields, and the proposed site of your new pavilion. Describe the surrounding area and note existing structures such as the field, track, seating, storage, locker rooms, concession stands, and any fences. 
  • On a piece of tracing paper placed over the aerial photo of your school, sketch a diagram showing a large arc around the building to show the path of the sun throughout the day.  This drawing is called a site analysis diagram.  (Remember, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.)

Think About

  • Will your new athletic pavillion replace your school's existing athletic facilities or become an addition to a different part of the building? Will it be built in an empty lot or space?  Will it be underground or built on the roof?  You decide.
  • Spend some time looking at the aerial photo of your school.  What types of other buildings surround your school?  Homes, businesses, parks, parking lots, or an empty field?  How will these other buildings impact the design of your new athletic pavillion?
  • What types of streets surround your school? Are they busy or quiet?   
  • Based on the site analysis diagram you've sketched, where is the sun located throughout the school day?
  • How can the indoor and outdoor areas of your new athletic pavillion be positioned to take advantage of the sunlight for good lighting?

Trexy's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

In this step, I provide sketches of various aspects of my intended design to demonstrate the design process.
This is one of the inside views of Nellis Air Force Base Gymnasium (Nellis Fitness Center). This...
This is the Nellis AFB Fitness Center. It shows the front and back view of the Main building of the...
This is another idea for the gym. I wanted to put Indoor Running Track inside of A-Tech Gym in the...
NEUTRAL COLOR SCHEMES: Flirting between cooler blue-grays, moody blues, stony grays, gray is a...
SUSTAINABILITY: Stained Glass: plays an important role . It enriches the spaces by letting in...
Complete A-TECH Floor Plan - The purpose of this photo is to illustrate how the entire A-TECH...

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WMS Boat House at Clark Park © Steve Hall Hedrich Blessing

In the Develop Solutions step, your rough ideas come together with drawings and models that can show others your solutions for a new library.

Important! Since DiscoverDesign is about investigating the design process, the other people viewing your project - other students around the country, your teacher, and the mentors - want to see how your ideas have changed over time. This means that while you're working on your digital model, you’ll want to be sure to keep re-saving it with a new file name every few days as you work through the steps.

Try This

  • Draw a sketch or use software such as Google SketchUp, AutoCAD, or Revit to illustrate your ideas.  You can upload photos (JPG files) from your SketchUp model, video fly throughs (FLV files) of your SketchUp model, or drawings (DWF files) from AutoCAD.
  • Determine the best location for your new structure. Make side notes of where new elements may go or how you would change what is currently in place.
  • Make a list of all the unique spaces and features you plan to have in your athletic pavilion. 
  • Your athletic pavilion can include any types of spaces and features you feel are most important for your particular school, but here are a few suggestions:
    • Locker or changing rooms for home and visiting teams
    • Athletic equipment storage rooms
    • Concession stand
    • Trophy cases
    • Water fountains
    • Offices for athletic director or staff
    • Bathrooms for fans
    • Exercise or weight rooms
  • Use cardboard to create a 3D study model of early ideas. Or, create a rough digital study model of your ideas. These models don't need to show detail, just the overall size and massing for your athletic pavilion.
  • Show your ideas to your teacher and peers for some feedback. You can also review your progress with the test group you may have interviewed and test whether your design would meet their needs or address their concerns. Learn from the feedback you receive and incorporate into your final design solution.
  • Be sure to check out and make comments on other student design projects.
  • Do not leave work for the last minute! Going through a detailed design process requires time to gather information, develop ideas, and make improvements. This is difficult or impossible if you try to pull everything together a week before your project is due. Projects that are researched, developed, and well executed will always stand out!

Trexy's work for the Develop Solutions step:

This next step is the beginning of the new gymnasium building which I have been working.
This is one of the important spaces in A-Tech's gymnasium. When I interviewed some of the...
This picture represents the original view of the locker room for girl's and I believe the boy...
This is just the perspective of my design. Which is basically designed in a "T" tetris...
This is the interior view of how the locker rooms will look as you actually stand up or come into...
This is just another 3D perspective drawing for my design idea.
This is just another 3D perspective drawing for my design idea. The top picture show the resting...
The elevation of Gymnasium, which is the Front view and Side View of the design.

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Williams Natatorium at Cranbrook Academy © All rights reserved by Doctor Casino

The Final Design step of the design process is to create more finished drawings and models that illustrate your ideas to others. Remember, your explanation text, and the types of drawings, images, and models you share need to tell the whole story of your project to someone who may or may not have ever visited your school.

Try This

  • Review your design and test it against your original sucess statement that you wrote for the Overview. Does it meet this criteria?
  • Does your final design meet the expectations of the student athletes and athletic director that you interviewed?  If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board and revise your design.
  • For your final design, you will want to post a short but effective paragraph of your process and the unique solutions you found and developed. Tell us about your ideas and how they may or may not have changed over the course of the project.
  • You might want to share floor plans, elevations, renderings of your digital model, photos of a physical model, or a video animation of your model.
  • But you aren't done yet! Be sure to comment on other projects in the competition to foster, encourage, and build an online design community of learners in DiscoverDesign.  CAF will also recognize students that provide both encouragement and constructive criticism on students' work throughout the run of the competition.

Trexy's work for the Final Design step:

This is my final design. I used Rendering 360 and just the realistic perspective of Revit.
This rendered view on the top is a partial side about 3 degrees north west of the front view, to...
This is my final project. I decided to put both pictures because it shows the realistic perspective...
This picture represents the boy's weight room and girl's yoga/weight room. I wanted to...
This is how will look like for the boy's restroom, it will be the same like girl's...
This is the view of the Showers in both Girl's and Boy's room.