Honorable Mention - Top 10 Finalist - Christian Orme - Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #147

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.

As one of the various prestigious magnet facilities situated in the Las Vegas valley, Advanced Technologies Academy is a highly distinguished school with numerous national recognitions, including two Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Awards in 2003 and 2011. Focusing mainly on academics coupled with an intense integration of technology, A-TECH offers numerous program areas for students, among them: Architecture Design, Engineering, Legal Studies, Business, Computer Graphics, Information Technologies, and Networking. While flourishing with an abundant supply of technological resources to further enhance education, A-TECH unfortunately lacks a well-functioning athletic center and gym space that brings a sense of pride and community to the overall student body.

The Design Problem: Completely isolated from the rest of the school, A-TECH's current athletic "pavilion" lacks numerous critical factors of forward-thinking design and fails to meet many of the criteria commonly found in most of the more modern high school gymnasiums. The building orientation of the sturcture alone serves as a prominently obvious example of the unthoughtful considerations when designing the space. Quite literally its own seperate "world," the placement of this gym detaches the continuity of the main building from the rest of the campus - including the basketball and tennis courts, basbeball field, and the main field itslef. Window placement and ingress/egress points are - for most visitors - difficult to find and awkwardly placed, resulting in traffic ambiguity for guests and parents who attend various open houses and school wide promotion events throughout the year. Furthermore, the dull building materials including the grey concrete paneling do little to enhance the aesthetic quality of the structure's interior and exterior facades and fail to provide any visual interests and/or focal points to the design. Lastly, because this building was constructed years before A-TECH's student 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 relocate 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 pavilion: one that encorporates numerous 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 durability of the structure's materials, the sustainability of its overall life cycle, and its energy performance for countless years to come. The two story recreational feature will accommodate a vast range of multi-purpose spaces including a main "lobby" that defines the centrality of the building, classrooms, exercise rooms, locker rooms/restrooms, administrative staff spaces, equipment storage, the actual gym itself, and other appropriate building attributes that a typical commercial athletic pavilion would include. Exterior wise, the adjacent field and existing basketball courts will be incorporated to the design via communal walkways and water-efficient landscaping strategies that will not only promote healthy student-to-student interaction, but will also aid in combining each of A-TECH's defined exterior campus spaces to work in harmony with one another to create a uniquely ambitious space that will ultimately provide the culture of A-TECH with a much more proud, unified, and healthier student population.

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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?

c_orme's work for the Collect Information step:

The following images show various aspects of A-TECH's current gym as well as its surrounding campus and landscaping strategies.
Aerial Perspective of A-TECH Campus - This image shows an aerial view of A-TECH's entire...
Current A-TECH Gym Floor Plan - This image shows the floor plan of A-TECH's current gym and...
South (Front) Exterior Facade of Gym - This image shows the simplicity of the gym's currnet...
Southeast Interior Perspective of Gym - This image serves to highlight the unoriginal design of the...
Northeast Perspective of Adjacent Grass Field - This is the surrounding field, mainly used for P.E...
Surrounding Landscaping Features - While the current landscaping around A-TECH's gym is fairly...
Complete A-TECH Floor Plan - The purpose of this photo is to illustrate how the entire A-TECH...

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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?

c_orme's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

The following images show various sketches for different interior and exterior spaces of the proposed design, demonstrating how the current gym's flaws (listed in "The Design Problem" in the "Overview
Exterior Building Material Collage - This image shows the various materials that will be used on...
Gymnasium South Elevation Conceptual Sketch - This image shows the concept behind the exterior...
Low-E Glass & Vegetative Roof Details - Taking advantage of numerous "green architecture...
Landscape Collage - By using various climate appropriate plants that have relatively high drought...
Pavilion Inspiration Boards - These images show two of the various underlying inspirations behind...
Site Plan Conceptual Sketch & Polycrystalline Solar Panel Detail- This image shows how the site...
Locker Room Space Design Analysis - Though all parts of the pavilion are equally important to the...

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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!

c_orme's work for the Develop Solutions step:

This step of the design process marks the beginning of the gradual shift from sketching and researching different ideas to the physical modeling the new pavilion.
Gymnasium (Southeast Perspective) Revit Model - This image shows the beginning of modeling the...
Pavilion (Southeast Perspective) Progressive Revit Model - This image shows the progression from...
Locker Room Floor Plan Callout - This callout of the Level 1 floor plan shows the idea for the new...
Public Restrooms (Level One) Interior Elevations - By adhering to the appropriate regulations of...
Roof Detail (Eastern Perspective) - The vegetative (Indian Rice Grass) roof and solar paneling on...
Central Lobby (Colored Interior Perspective) - This image depicts a simple colored representation...
Interior Gymnasium (North Perspective) - This image shows an interior colored perspective of one of...

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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.

c_orme's work for the Final Design step:

After considering previous drafts and revisions from numerous files, these images of colored/rendered conceptual components of the structure display the final design of Advanced Technologies Academy's
East Elevation - This colored image shows the entire eastern elevation of Novus Pavilion, including...
Northeast Exterior Render - This image shows the northeast facade of Novus Pavilion. The area...
Final Site/Roof Plan - This render shows the final site plan for Novus Pavilion, including the...
Northwest Exterior Render - This image is a birdseye view of the pavilion from the far northwest...
Vegetative Roof Analysis - By using traditional roofing materials, this green roof absorbs the sun...