Honorable Mention - Top 10 Finalist - Lukas Sullivan - Redesign Your School Athletic Pavilion | 2014 National High School Architecture Competition #153

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, Nevada. With a large focus towards technology, most of the school’s funds and efforts go towards maintaining the academic merit of the school. Because of this, one thing that has been overlooked when planning the assets of the school is a practical athletic facility. The existing gymnasium is separated from the main building and has the approximate dimensions of 150’ X 150’. Being this size, the gym is not large enough to support the class sizes at the school. Also, the space planning of the gym is not efficient, meaning that it is hard for classes to use all of the allotted time in one period. An example of this is the distance between the men’s locker room and the field. The distance is much more than it needs to be and causes a huge inconvenience.

Problem to solve: The main focus of this design is to boost the efficiency of the building to where it is coherent with the needs of the classes. In the process, extra spaces and activities can be added to increase the amount of things that teachers can do with their PE classes. Building efficiency will also be taken into account because of its impact on the cost of the building. The goal overall is to create an open space for PE class and school assemblies.

Solution to problem: As stated previously, the main focus point is the open space where the basketball courts are placed. This is important because of the fact that this is where a majority of the activities will take place. Proper seating is placed to support basketball games as well as school assemblies. Locker rooms are placed in close proximity to the field to allow for efficiency of dressing out and starting class. The second level includes an open space where tables can be placed to create a learning environment as well as a lounging environment. Overall, the space planning was designed to keep related rooms close to each other. The structure of the building consists of basic vertical walls for the “wings” of the building, and curved walls for the back of the open area on the first level. The organic roof design is made to be modified upon the need for more or less shade in a specific area corresponding with the curtain systems. The curtain systems are oriented to let light in, but leave heat out. This helps in the Las Vegas climate because any amount of heat let into a building can affect its energy efficiency substantially. The field is being encompassed by the building because the building can serve as shading for that space. Also, the field is right by the locker rooms creating an efficient flow of students throughout the space.

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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. 

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  • 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?

luke328's work for the Collect Information step:

There are several means of collecting information for this project. Th major tools used include google earth, and previous floor plans provided by the school.
This is a picture of the floor plan for the existing gym. The major problem with it is the fact...
The new gym is taking spaces that are currently split up and combining them into a larger complex....
The current gym is separated into 3 levels of privacy. First being private which includes the...
The current building is constructed of non efficient and outdated building materials. Glass block...
The facade of the existing gym is outdated and not artistic. It has very little relation 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?

luke328's work for the Brainstorm Ideas step:

There are several ways that I manipulated the design of the building.
This is an adjacency matrix showing which rooms are adjacent to maximize the efficiency of room...
This bubble diagram shows where the rooms are in relation to each other and how they all connect....
This is a sketch focusing on the facade of the building. It shows the shape and relations between...
This is the preliminary floor plan, originally designed for a different facade, I took several...
By making the Curtain System movable, the indoor and outdoor spaces can be manipulated to work...
Green roofs are used commonly today because of their sustainability and efficiency. Although they...

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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!

luke328's work for the Develop Solutions step:

To develop solutions, I took all of my ideas and picked which would improve the building the most. I focused on public spaces for students, and workout space that can handle large class sizes.
The concept behind the facade of building and the design of the roof is based off of shading. This...
The organic roof shape allows the shading to be specific to where the sun mostly hits. By being...
This a perspective view of the upper level. This is a space can be used as a classroom, sitting...
This image shows the weight room and its ability to hold large classes. It is located next to the...
This image shows all of the spaces in correlation to the field. This curtain system opens to allow...
The organic roof acts as a shading structure for the curtain systems that are interlaced. When...

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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.

luke328's work for the Final Design step:

The major factors that need to be addressed in this design problem include a good size, appropriate areas,energy efficiency, and most important it needs to be fit for gym classes to take place.
The exterior of the building takes building materials include glass and concrete to create a unique...
Level 2 in this building is used for teaching classes as well as creating a common space for...
The main focus point in the floor plan is the field. Close proximity to it is important because...
The second level is primarily focused towards the learning area. This is where health classes will...
The wings of the building are placed to shade the main curtain system. This addresses the main...
The basketball court/open area acts as a common space for visitors of the building. This is where a...
The opening curtain system acts as a tie between the indoor space and outdoor space. As people are...