No one joins a club because it has great storage facilities. So why devote-a complete design blog to such a mundane subject?
The reason is simple: Adequate, well-located storage rooms hide the back-of-the-house support materials and equipment necessary to maintain clean, functional, uncluttered hallways and program areas. Great club spaces have the ability to keep maintenance equipment, supplies, towel carts, temporary furnishings and other such items conveniently located but out of public view. I’ve been designing clubs for more than 30 years, but learned very early that the operational folks who depend on the right-sizing of properly located storage rooms are rarely well represented in the conceptual stages of the programming and design process. If designers are not making adequate space allocations for storage at that time, these needs often get overlooked until it is too late.
The following is a collection of storage lessons learned the hard way:
• The Symptoms: When storage needs have been short-changed, there is no denying the evidence. We see exit stairs with stacks of beverage inventory under the landings, corridors lined with towel carts, studios compromised by stacks of mats and blocks encroaching on the perimeter of activity areas, pool decks cluttered with floatables and gymnasiums congested by exposed and idle equipment occupying the safety buffer around the game lines. These are all symptoms of a problem that should have been solved during the preconstruction planning process.
• Less is More: As a club design unfolds, the competition for space is intense. Studios, locker rooms and fitness floors - the stuff that sells memberships - all clamor for more floor area. Offices, mechanical rooms and storage-the stuff that members don't care about-get less attention. And rightly so, because at $250.00 per square foot, a club building is an expensive place to build storage rooms that displace revenue-generating program space. Storage space in this high-cost environment must be efficiently sized and precisely located for maximum benefit. Locker room supply closets, for example, work best when contained within the perimeter of the locker room they serve. In this case, 12 square feet in the right place outperforms 60 square feet in the wrong place.
• The Storage Solution: Our rule of thumb for new clubs is to allocate dedicated storage space in the high-cost core building equal to 0.75% to 1.0% of the gross floor area and distribute it optimally relative to the purpose served. In addition to this allocation, another 0.75% to 1.0% of gross floor area should be assigned for general bulk storage in remote low-cost locations such as prefabricated outbuildings, basements, attics, back-of-house service areas or off-site rented space. These remote low-cost storage options are ideal for seasonal items, bulk supplies, archives, records, low frequency spare parts, etc.
It is far more cost effective to include a low-cost metal storage outbuilding in the service yard than to displace valuable member program space in the core building or to build a bigger core building. This approach has also proven to be an effective solution when the pressure for internal expansion of the program area results in general storage rooms being repurposed for offices or member services.
Got junk? The rule of thumb ratios referenced above may seem rather minimal to those not familiar with the propensity of club owners to save everything that might possibly be useful in the future. The result is storerooms filled to the rafters with massive accumulation of items, many of which should simply be discarded, recycled or donated for the value of the tax write-off.
Operational guidance and fit to purpose are important keys to proper storage planning. Intelligent planning of storage facilities in and around an athletic club is only possible when the people responsible for management, programming and operations are at the table with the design team. In this way, the specifics of each storage need can be understood and detailed to be appropriately sized and effectively located.
The only thing worse than too little storage space is too much storage space.