Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #162

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.

Advanced Technologies Academy, founded in 1994, is one of the top schools in the country, the top magnet school in Nevada, and an all-around excellent academic school. Created in the mid 990’s, this school aimed at integrating new technologies into its students’ lives and education. The gymnasium, along with the East wing of the building, was not included in the original plans for the building and it is apparent that the gym was added on as an afterthought. Although the school is one of the best in the educational field, one of its major downfalls is that there is almost no emphasis on physical improvement.
Design Problem: Although ATECH is one of the best academic schools in the country, there is little to no emphasis on creating a physically fit student body. The old gym is used by only the underclassmen P.E. classes and is rarely visited by anyone not in those classes. The school has no culture of physicality due to its lack of athletic events or even athletic interest in the student body. The new gymnasium needs to create a culture of physical fitness throughout the student body and staff by giving them access to cutting edge athletic facilities and educational areas in order to educate students about the need for a solid nutritional foundation in order to lead a better life. The gym has to not only change the aesthetic of the school but the culture of the student body.
Design Solution: My process to reinvigorate the gym and its facilities revolves around a two pronged approach: connecting the old gym to the tennis area and creating a more thorough facility in order to change the way students live. Using a sky bridge over the wide grass field in order to enclose and combine both existing structures and adding a second floor in order to house educational and lifting facilities, the two existing physical facilities would be combined and improved upon, fitting in the already existing space allotted to athletic facilities. Adding on a single grandstand to improve the chances of sporting events at ATECH, this project creates a wide range of possibilities by adding onto existing materials and structures.

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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. 

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  • 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?

lvsa1841's work for the Collect Information step:

To begin this project, I first took a walk around my school.
Used with the permission of a classmate who stylized the image, this picture shows the odd...
This picture shows the actual gym in relation to the size of the school. This image also details...
Shows the street view of the gym, clearly depicting the poor usage of portables to house extra...
Shows the undesirable exterior of the gym with the large exterior pipes added to connect the gym to...
Used with permission from a classmate, this picture shows the poor lighting and sound systems on...
Depicts the bland concrete exterior on the western facade, with limited lighting opportunities.

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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.

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  • 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?

lvsa1841's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

I have long had a huge admiration for the reflective and cutting edge designs commonly found in modern Asian architecture, and it was from there that I drew my inspiration.
This picture illustrates the ideal panel motif that I was attempting to capture in my exterior...
Another idea that I was trying to enscapulate in my curtain wall exterior.
As indicated on the previous page, the sun path goes across the southern facade of the gym, hitting...
Also on the previous page, the school is located on almost every side with residential structures...
All of the smaller metal panels showcased in my design would be solar panels in effect paying for...
Going along with the foreign modern architecture ideas, I really admire a particular firm in Japan...
Another design from the same firm entirely gathers the elements of natural yet clean design that I...

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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.

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  • 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!

lvsa1841's work for the Develop Solutions step:

To figure out a solution for our schools gym problem, I staryted out by gathering ideas on what I wanted the gym to look like.
This floorplan illustrates the basic model of how the building would be seen, with large open...
This is an earlier view of how the building would bee seen form underneath.
The old floorplan of the gym was a major influence in my design, with a lot of the rooms being...

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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.

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  • 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.

lvsa1841's work for the Final Design step:

My final design uses lots of metals and hard materials which need to be softened by plants and other smoother materials.
This exterior view of the building encom passes all that I wanted to in my design, with a multi...
The view of the west facade shows the long overhang on the roof which provides not only more...
This view of the inside of the main room of the gym, the room where the basketball court would be,...
Another view of the inside of the gym, this time in color.
This image portrays how the exterior/interior space would be seen, with the greenery adding a more...