Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #177

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 is a Magnet high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our school holds a strong emphasis on computer related fields and is notably known for integrating technology with our academics and program areas. Established in 1994, A-TECH has come a long way and is currently standing as the number one high school in Nevada. With its growing student population, A-TECH can easily be described as a close-knit community of students where everyone interacts with one another, despite differences in background and program areas and interests. As a whole our school is place where almost everyone knows each other.

Unlike other high schools, however, A-TECH focuses mainly on academics and technology, and therefore lacks any type of team sports. With that being said, our school basically lacks the traditional "high school football field and large grounds" setting. Compared to other high schools in Las Vegas, our school is small in terms of area and grounds. Our school utilizes the gym as a central place to hold various school activities. Our gym, for example, is not only used for P.E. classes, but also used for assemblies, the occasional dodgeball game, award ceremonies, and other school events that cannot be held in the main building. As a result, the gym is frequently used and is often occupied. Unfortunately, our gymnasium is not well built and despite it's usefulness, is unable to meet the standard that should be met.

Design Problem: As mentioned above, the school gym is regularly used for different activities and is often occupied by students and people. When it was built in 2000, the building was not well-designed for a school with a growing population. In short, the gymnasium is too small. Aside from that, it has many different structural problems that until this day have not been addressed. Not only is it aesthetically unappealing, but it's functionality was not maximized to the level where it could have been built as it's best - therefore, could be improved. The itself building has many minor structural problems. The locker rooms for both boys and girls are cramped, the showers are almost unusable (and perhaps taking room for locker space), the weight room is blindingly bright in the morning (to the point where the students could suffer from eye problems). More importantly, the building (although always used) does not meet the standards in which it should.

Design Solution: My plan is to totally reconstruct the building and to make sure to maximize the level of efficiency that it should meet. I will accommodate and think of the needs of those frequently use the gym and find ways to fit their needs.
1. I will look into expanding the cramped spaces, and attempt to get rid of problems such as the lighting problem, improving the circulation and flow.
2. To add more seating and to provide a centerpiece for the Gym.
3. I will add more outside seating in the field, as a supplement to the outside bleachers.
4. To provide an additional recreational area for smaller activities, and to perhaps, attach a classroom to the weight room for P.E. teachers to use.
5. I will also change the orientation of the rooms, to position them in a much more better location.
Aside from that, I will also improve the exterior design of the building in order to make it look more attractive than it is.

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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?

timon's work for the Collect Information step:

Our class did a "Site Visit" and our teacher allowed us to take pictures as we walked around the gym.
The Gym Floor Plan. As you can see, our gymnasium is cramped because of its small layout....
This is an aerial view of the school grounds labeled to show the orientation of the Gym to the rest...
Since the Gym is so small, it is only expected that the architects of this building make its...
In this picture, you can see that the building is gradually falling apart. The cracks underneath...
The locker rooms generally are too small and lack the space needed for P.E. classes. Students...
The Gym. The gym is one of the most frequently used spaces around A-TECH. The gym is probably one...
A View of the Field, the Courts, and the Shaded Benches Area near the Gym. Though the shaded...

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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?

timon's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

Brainstormed ideas.
A front view of the new exterior. This is a basic sketch of the front elevation of the gymnasium....
These are the colors that I will try to incorporate into the final design. The school colors are...
A "Bubble Diagram" that turned into the "Floor Plan" - is generally what the...
The Student Recreation Center at CALTECH has inspired the direction in which I want this project to...
This is a sketch of a room that I would like to add to the gym. It's simply an extra "...
This basketball court is aesthetically appealing to the eye. The wood paneling partition is a...
Top Picture: A unique fabric design used for shading. Could make a great addition to high school...

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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!

timon's work for the Develop Solutions step:

I was able to develop solutions by first taking account of what problems needed to be addressed.
Image of the front exterior of the new gym from Revit. A larger entrance and a small ticket office...
The weight room is moved to a different location. As opposed to the current weight room, this...
More bleachers for the gym and a wooden partition to act as a centerpiece. There is also natural...
An additional recreational area with an attached classroom for P.E. teachers to use. There is room...
Additional benches for the field and near the entrance of the gym.
Adjacent to the Tennis Courts, this area will be additional shade for the outside benches and...

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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.

timon's work for the Final Design step:

The Final Design was made through Revit.
Rendered view of the additional shaded seating near the gym.
Shaded tent area for P.E. classes and students in general.

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