Life Changing Design

Life changing design

Most Park and Recreation Professionals have a deep understanding of the transformative power recreation has in the communities it serves. The benefits of family cohesion, better health, socialization, community pride, sports enhancement and good sportsmanship all reach deep into the core of better quality life for all. To assure the best customer service possible occurs amidst rising expectation, and dwindling resources, professionals must use every means at their disposal to implement increasingly better programs at the right price, location, and times with the best instructors, staff, and equipment available. The same holds true of facilities that are expected to be clean, well maintained, and spectacular in the amenities they offer. Providing the very best, well designed facilities is at the core of creating a great guest experience.

Beyond the brick and mortar of a Community Center, and often times hidden from the naked eye lay elements the building when designed properly; make the difference between having an experience of confusion and monotony, to one of pure joy and invigoration. This blog uncovers the fundamentals of several make or break principals of facility design that when implemented by an expert will provide your users with an incredible experience for decades to come.

3. Spatial Adjacencies and View Corridors

The last time, we talked about proper facility flow. This time we will take a look at the role that well-planned spatial adjacencies and view corridors have in creating happy customers, reducing staff headaches and providing long-term satisfaction.

Have you ever walked into a great-looking community center to attend a pool party with your kids only to find that to get to the party room you need to: walk up a level from the lobby; down a public corridor; through some random activity rooms; and into a “party room” that doubles as a storage-challenged art studio? That initial “great-looking” impression you might have had quickly fades away due to the lack of forethought in working through the spatial adjacencies of the facility. Only a careful study of real-world scenarios, such as this example, as part of the conceptual design phase can spare your eventual sparkling new facility from being permanently hobbled--dysfunctionality lurking around every corner. Imagine front desk staff freed from having to walk guests to otherwise hard to find destinations!

To make sense of what-needs-to-go-next-to-what, the various activities and spaces within a facility can be broadly grouped into four categories. These are: Non-fee areas such as the lobby, community rooms and computer labs; Fee-required spaces such as fitness, sports, and aquatic areas; support spaces such as locker and mechanical rooms; and specialty spaces such as senior areas and medical/rehab spaces. How these various categories of rooms and activities are organized into a plan, considering adjacencies, proximity and control, is critical to a successfully operating facility. Each space has a potentially dizzying array of functional, finish, and fit considerations to weigh, test and select against adjacent spaces categories for a harmonious ‘neighborhood ‘ to exist.

View corridors are the potential opportunities that exist because of the varying volumes, specific room requirements and how they lay out in an open planning design. This has an enormous impact on the way the customer experiences the building. For example, if a facility has a large recreational component and a significant specialty component like a performance arts center, it would be a mistake to just turn one component’s back onto the other. Instead of considering these as two fully separated functions, good facility design seeks ways to leverage common areas and social opportunities without compromising their function or their need for separate control. The resulting benefit is the ability to introduce recreational amenities to performing arts patrons and vice versa. Without that visibility, it’s a missed opportunity.

View corridors within community and recreation centers exist in three forms: Outside-in; inside-out, and inside to other interior activities. If all these are properly deployed by the design team, the end-user will be introduced to new activities, views and friends as they “absorb energy” from experiencing all the amenities available to them.

Below are several examples of how paying attention to spatial adjacencies and view corridors in the design of a facility brings added benefits to the end-user and enhances the visual appeal of spaces to boot.
Views out to the Rocky Mountain National Park’s Mummy Range are the highlight from this corner of the running track at Estes Valley Community Center.

All three different types of view corridors are in play at this track at the Trails Recreation Center. You can see the outside through the perimeter windows; the track is visible from the outside; and from the track you can see the climbing wall, the fitness floor, pools, and the lobby.

At the Campbell County Recreation Center in Gillette, Wyoming, great spatial adjacencies and corridor views enhance the sense of space. Views from the gym to the competitive track allows recreation users to see others on the track and vice-versa. Athletes can use the gym itself for queuing into other venues (not visible from this angle) during competitions.

The medical rehab component of the Choice Wellness Center in Grand Forks is directly adjacent to and flows into the upper level fitness floor.  Patients can utilize and cross-train with all recreational equipment as they progress in their therapy.

Views into the pools and climbing wall at the Campbell County Recreation Center welcome the public into the facility.

Next time we will talk about Context Design (Theming).

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