Laramie Community Recreation Center

Laramie Community Recreation Center

Laramie Community Recreation Center, August 20, 2020.


Like all recreation and aquatic venues throughout the United States, the Laramie Community Recreation Center was shut down in March of 2020 due to the global pandemic.  Finally allowed to reopen its doors in June, the City had to implement new protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19, not the least of which was to completely overhaul how patrons entered the building, were screened for entry to the center, and recorded for contact tracing.

The staff quickly realized that although some things about the check-in desk and sequence worked pretty well, such as the overhead trellis that could support acrylic panel barriers from overhead, other certain aspects that used to be commonplace are simply no longer suitable in the age of COVID.

The Lobby and Front Desk were originally designed with a “Pinch Point” – a designed constriction in the circulation path to coerce patrons to walk closely by the desk when coming and going, being passively controlled and credentialed rather than having to navigate any sort of physical barrier.  With the current requirements during the pandemic that every person be screened for the symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entry, more physical constraints are necessary to ensure the safety of everyone.  The need to separate patrons from each other and from the staff while conducting business at the desk also became a necessity.

OLC was engaged to envision a new Front Desk for space.  One that would provide multiple ways for patrons to check into the building while protecting staff and others from the spread of contagious disease.

The new Front Desk will have three individual check-in stations facing front, with permanent translucent privacy panels between the stations, and solid yet demountable clear partitions between patrons and staff to provide a proper shielding barrier.  Think of arena ticket counters, where the employees are behind glass with a small speaker in each for audible conversation.  The hope is that once the pandemic subsides, these barriers can be taken down to improve approachability and customer service.

All patrons will undergo questioning and a temperature check right after entering the front doors.  Once patrons have checked in at the Front Desk, they will walk around the counter to the glass turnstiles and be buzzed into the Center.  Patrons with prepaid membership cards will be able to circumvent the check-in stations and simply swipe their card into the turnstiles and cruise on in.  When exiting the facility, the sequence is the same, just in reverse.  Patrons will have to swipe their card to exit through the turnstiles, thus helping the Center to keep track of those that are currently in the building and those that have left.

The Front Desk is the central command center of any Recreation and Aquatics Center, it both welcomes patrons as they arrive and is the hub for all program-related activities.  The threat of COVID-19 has placed new demands on designers and made them really think through how the architecture should respond.  Our goal is always to design beautiful buildings and spaces that really work well to keep patrons and staff as safe as possible at all times.

Before image, showing make-shift barriers installed as a stopgap measure for reopening the facility in June of 2020.


Conceptual Design image of the new Front Desk, showing integrated privacy and safety barriers at check-in stations and new glass turnstiles to improve patron control and tracking.



Blog by Robert McDonald, Senior Principal & CEO