Honorable Mention - Top 10 Finalist - Cal Craven - Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #185

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.

Background- Our new high school has just been completely redone this year. All new indoor facilities include a wrestling room, a weight room, two gyms, and athletic offices. These are situated off of the rotunda, to the northwest side of the building.
Problem Statement- I have to look at the area available to me and decide what is best used in which areas. One problem I have to consider is the art and technology wing, which is attached to the athletic pavilion, I need to consider that students have to be able to access this area, along with parents who might not want to walk through the school to get to the athletic pavilion. In the same category of problem, spacing, I would like to really keep athletic areas close together. Easier access and storage, as well as a better after school friendly atmosphere across sports should result from this. Finally, I would like to coordinate styles from the educational aspect of the school to the athletic aspect of the school. Most of the outdoor athletic facilities have not been updated when the school was built in a Jeffersonian style. I want to incorporate this style across campus.


Short and simple background statement. I also liked how you presented the problem, which is not very obvious given that your school has recently been redone. Well done in focusing on discreet areas and components.

It is good if the problem will be addressed well. - Nova Publishers

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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?

triplec96's work for the Collect Information step:

I toured our athletics area during school, talked to students about it, talked to teachers who worked in it, and took pictures and notes of the pros and cons of the current arrangement of our athletic
This is the basketball and workout areas of Minnesota Gopher's College Basketball Team. I...
This is something that our school currently is struggling with. As of now, the High School has a...
These are two pictures of our current weight room. Currently, the room is surrounded on 2 sides...
This is the current high school entrance to the indoor sports facilities. To the left, the hallway...
These are the lockers of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, the sports facility for the Oregon Ducks...
Interview with Scott Leonard, who plays basketball and baseball for Westlake's varsity teams:...
The first couple of pictures are pictures of the entrance area of our main gym. I also found some...

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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?

triplec96's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

I brainstormed ideas by looking at the research I gathered, and what was around me at my school, and at other schools, to come up with a list of things that needed to be done at my new school.
This shows the floor plans of the current indoor sports facilities. Things to note include the gyms...
This is the awkward area mentioned in the last slide. It is not a visually appealing place, and...
Here is an overall view of the new Westlake high school and the relation of the school to the...
Although this Google Maps picture shows the old high school, it also shows about where the new high...
This is a picture of famous Dunlavy Field in Sonora California. The field has beautiful landscape,...
With the football field cut down into the ground, drainage issues would become more of a problem...
This is a picture of the courts at Liberty University. They are ideal, because windy conditions...

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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!

triplec96's work for the Develop Solutions step:

In this step, i began to work on Revit 2014 and 2010 to look at spacial relations of the current area, whether outdoor or indoor, and decide which amenities fit in ideal locations.
This is a Revit Sketch of the site plan of our school, and our schools placement in this area. From...
Now you can see more of the outdoor facilities, and where they are in relation to the school. At...
Here one can see a modification I would like to make to the art area on the southern side of that...
This is just a quick sketch of a possible indoor gym area I could use to develop my final plans....
Here you can see the spacing I can use with the art wing flipped. Using this I am able to start...
Now I have begun the process of implementing a final design. I know what I want, and what space I...
These are a few of my preliminary sketches and ideas on the overall aesthetics of the buildings and...

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Williams Natatorium at Cranbrook Academy Flickr.com © 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.

triplec96's work for the Final Design step:

Here you can see everything put together. All CAD work was done with Revit: Architecture. Final Design Features List-
This is the front entrance of the main gym. I like it because it really fits with the style of the...
Here is another rendering of the main gym, except with a side view. One thing to note is the...
This shows the connection between the gyms. With the pathway over a pond, you really get a nice...
Now we look at the outdoors part of the design. The football field is shown below ground level 25...
Here you can see the tennis courts in relation to the football field. These also are slightly below...
Here is an axonometric view of level 1, you can see each gym, and the layout of each of the rooms...
Finally you can see the final floor plan. One nice thing is that by switching the art wing and the...

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