How to spatially lay out complex Athletic Facilites*

*hint: it involves circles

By Robin Pecka, ASID – Interior Designer, ALSC Architects

Athletic or Fitness Facilities are often large and contain multiple functions and programs under one roof. These programs must be spatially organized to work together for the most efficient use and safety of facility users and staff.

The task of figuring out where these different programs should lie within a building requires an absolute understanding of each of the programs being included and how the users will utilize the space. This is uncovered during the Programming phase of a project. This Programming information helps spur the beginning phase of spatial organization.

Let’s look at how we start the process of organizing functions within the space. It is a lot more colorful than you might think.

1. Get the Bubbles Done

We first draw a simple “bubble” for each space/function that shows approximate size. The types of spaces are determined during Programming.

2.Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

Next the absolutes in adjacencies are revisited. These adjacencies were established in the Programming phase to determine which spaces NEED to be located near one another. Likewise, we look at which spaces should be located as far from each other as possible to provide peak function within the building.

3. Exactly How Close

Now that we have the absolutes in place we ask “What spaces need to have a proximity directly adjacent to each other, what spaces can have a bit of separation between them, and what spaces can be used to fill in-between?” This is a simplified version of the process, but the idea is that the puzzle will begin to solve itself as we work through various solutions. Approaching each solution from a different perspective (a staff using the building, a parent with children using the pool, or a busy patron with 1 hour to get in and out) will help finesse the best location for each function.

4. Make it Real

The finished bubble diagram gives us a great map to start from as we implement the conceptual spaces into the actual building footprint – and you are left with a piece of great looking art!

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