First Place - Christopher Kumaradjaja - Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #280

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 task is to redesign the athletic facilities for The Masters School, a boarding/day school that serves the 5-12th grades. On their website, the school views its mission as providing “a challenging academic environment that encourages critical, creative, and independent habits of thought and a lifelong passion for learning.” To achieve that mission, the school “promotes and celebrates academic achievement, artistic development, ethical action, athletic endeavor, and personal growth.” The mission is implemented through the school’s Harkness table teaching methodology that encourages diverse opinions, interests, and shared experiences. As a result, the student body has developed relaxed but excitedly focused atmosphere throughout the 96-acre campus.

Masters sets athletics as an integral part in a student's high school experience. The school's boasts a number of sports teams that compete at the interscholastic level. Ample opportunities are available for every student to participate in the school's events as player and spectator. The athletic offerings range from interscholastic tournaments to open gym. While the school boasts many outdoor playing fields including an outdoor competition standard track, the current athletic center can no longer satisfy the school’s need for their planned athletics, arts, and extra-curricular expansion. A redesign of the athletic facilities would require displacement of the building housing other programs such as dance, music and leisure. However, arts related activity will be included in the new building as the school considers them as inextricably linked together.

The programs of combining arts and the athletics in the new center include dedicated gymnasia, pool, and studios that are specifically accommodated to every one of the sports and co-curricular activities that Masters has to offer. Therefore, the goal of the new design is clear: to meet up with these expectations. A striking programmatic feature of the center is that it includes a variety of leisure amenities, such as a café and various hang out spaces.

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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?

x30ffx's work for the Collect Information step:

As part of the information gathering process, I surveyed to existing athletics and arts facilities, the locations of the buildings around the athletic center, and the terrain of the campus.
Here's a crude rendering of the existing buildings on campus. The school is in fact looking to...
Side windows on the gym leave the sun casts uneven, and may even blind both players and spectators...
This diagram visualizes the afternoon commute of students, who come directly from class to the...
Traffic jams and clots are a normal sight in the halls of Strayer. Unfortunately, many students...
Crude renderings of the sun's position relative to the campus. The general times of inter-...
This is the only lounge area in the athletics side of the entire building at the moment. The space...
The main hallway in the existing Strayer Hall makes an unnecessary bent shape, adding even more...

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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?

x30ffx's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

If I were to hypothetically redesign this very large building, how would I incorporate the arts and athletic programs in order to achieve the balance and strength that my school so aims to strive for?
This is a circulation scheme for my new design. In this scheme, all the programs are strung...
This scheme is based on the idea of a spectacle. A sports venue that houses a great spectacle would...
What if... Those two schemes were combined? Now, the cross would provide quick and easy "...
Masters offers a wealth of various sports teams, which the student body can participate in. In fact...
A great way to figure out the way the program should be fitted is through these little "blocks...
This is a test render of the schemes in its context. The purpose is to get an idea of scale within...

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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!

x30ffx's work for the Develop Solutions step:

This stage involves the attempt to clump the programs into a strategic layout of a single building.
The Lower Level is created to scale in the context of its site. As shown, the blue cross serves as...
In this slide, the highlighted area shows the manifestation of the "community bubble"...
The idea of dedicated lounge areas dispersed throughout the building is manifested in this initial...
To accommodate the space of the neighboring field and the contour of the ground, the eastern half...
This color-coded diagram shows the first draft of the to-scale program. The rooms which house major...
The building's design allows for a versatile, polarized setting accommodated for "game...
As a means of saving energy, the tops of both gymnasia are clad in glass for natural sunlight....

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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.

x30ffx's work for the Final Design step:

Based on different aspects proposed in the “Brainstorm Ideas” section and explored in the “Develop Solutions” section, a final design has emerged.
In this aerial view of the final product, the two gymnasia can be seen as providing a striking...
As mentioned in the “Developing Solutions” section, the faulted halves of the building has created...
This is the view of the final design of the fencing studio – a sport that has a long tradition at...
This rendering depicts the inner hallways. The viewpoint comes from the doorway of the fencing...
This locker room has ample amount of storage space, and changing space for the student athletes. A...
The northern gym at high noon is fully lit by the sunlight. During the year when day light savings...
This is a composite image of a photograph of the campus green and the rendering of the east side as...