Honorable Mention - Top 10 Finalist - Mario Rodriguez - Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #158

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 school in Las Vegas. Located at 2501 Vegas Drive, it was established in 1994 with the purpose of integrating technology with academics. The school's goal was to make it a completely "paperless school" in the way that everything would be computerized. So far, that hasnt been the case. The school’s current gymnasium was opened in early 2000. Before the establishment of the gym, all there was for the students to exercise was simply park exercise equipment. So in 2000, the new, yet expensive 12 million dollar gym was created. The gym was created prior to the creation of the east wing in the school. The east wing provided enough space for an additional 250 students. The gym was only designed to facilitate the original students, not the additional 250. So whenever there is an assembly or public meeting in the gym, we have to create two sessions: one for half of the students, and the other one for the rest of the students because there is not enough space to accommodate the entire school population. My goal is to create a true athletic pavilion instead of just a gym. I want to create something that any student or faculty member can use by being able to give it the full functionality of an athletic pavilion with a modern twist. I plan to have locker space for all of the students to be able to leave their clothes in their P.E. locker. Currently, freshmen and some sophomores are forced to carry take home their P.E. clothes due to the fact that there is no space. Because of the lack of space, the freshman P.E. locker room is in a portable. Students are required to bring their own lock in order to prevent theft because of the lack of space, they must share lockers with the other class periods. After the period is over, the students must take the clothes and the lock with them. With the inclusion of a larger locker room, this problem is overcome. I also plan to add an indoor track an an indoor soccer field. Being a resident of Las Vegas for more than five years, and having to put up with this intense heat, it is almost silly not to provide an indoor track. I also want to create a spacious weight room that will be able to accommodate all the P.E. students in the period. With the existing weight room, half the students enjoyed a nice workout session inside the weight room while the other half were not only running laps around the field, but also battling the heat. Adding classrooms with enough space for the P.E. teachers to give lectures in is also something I took into consideration. Being that there is only one classroom which is permanently occupied by the health teacher, the students would have to take their notes in the weight room. With limited room for chairs, many students had to find a seat on the exercise equipment or even the floor. So with the addition of the classrooms on the second floor, the students will now have the luxury of being able to take their notes on actual desks. Not only do I want to focus on the closed spaces of the athletic pavilion, but also the open spaces. On the second floor, I want to have a great big area where students can relax under a palm tree or even just be able to look at the view. I want to make it so even when they are inside the pavilion, they feel outside. In conclusion, the athletic pavilion I am creating will help reduce and even eliminate the problems with the existing gym by having a modernistic approach with still the effectiveness of a traditional classic.

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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?

ayooomario's work for the Collect Information step:

For my gathering of information, I went to the gym to get the pros and cons of the existing gym. There I interviewed one of the physical education teachers and gathered her thoughts about the gym.
This is the main entrance to the existing gym. Note the dullness of the exterior facade. There is...
This is the view from the edge of the school looking on to the gym. In my opinion, there is nothing...
This is the floor plan of the existing gym. Please take note of some of the awkward space layouts....
This is the site plan which shows the relation between the existing gym and the surrounding areas.
This is a view from the southeast looking at the exterior of the weight room. To me, there is no...
This is what a student sees as soon as they step past the front doors. They come across to this...
In order to design an effective gym, I had to understand the problems. So on my trip to the...

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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?

ayooomario's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

In this part of the project, I began sketching my ideas and actually translating them onto the computer. I started off with a few concept sketches and then quickly settled onto my final design.
I got my inspiration for the windows from this building: the Kaleida Health Gates Vascular...
This is the very first sketch I put together. I particularly like deconstructive modernism. I like...
This is my thought process for the indoor track I plan to incorporate. 1. Started off with the...
This design greatly influenced my design. It is the Vitra Design Campus in Weil am Rheim, Germany....
This is the final version of my original rendering. I had wanted to make the exterior stainless...

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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!

ayooomario's work for the Develop Solutions step:

In this step, I monitored my progress citing all changes in the design concept. Here is where everything started coming into place.
After debating on what color to paint the exterior of my builiding, I did research on some...
These sketches are ones that changed the entire North facade of the building. I strongly feel like...
When creating my model, I noticed that I had quite an area of empty, unused space on the second...
To keep up with the rising number of students at my school, I provided ample seating for current...
One huge problem of the existing gym is that there is not enough locker space for the students....
Being that there is going to be a large quantity of students using the weight room, I wanted to...
When I began modeling my weight room, I remembered something from when I was in weight training...

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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.

ayooomario's work for the Final Design step:

This the final design I came up with to address the current problem with the existing gym.
The top view is the the basketball court facing east. I added the window at the top to allow for...
This is the weight room looking southeast. As you can see, the weight room benefits from a lot of...
This is the yoga room which is located inside the weight room. I added the yoga room because not...
This is the exterior of the athletic pavilion. I had originally wanted to paint the outside a dark...
This is the open area on the second floor. I designed it so the students, as well as the staff,...
These are the links to the uncompressed images, walkthroughs, and revit model of the existing gym...
This is the section cut of my model that quickly gives a reference of where all the areas are in...