Feature Article - May 2019
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Aiming for Versatility

Trends in Multipurpose Facilities

By Deborah L. Vence


Multipurpose Design

McKenna said it's not uncommon for the team at CannonDesign to be working on a dozen multipurpose facilities at any one time, noting three that, she said, really stand out.

For example, Virginia Tech is renovating and expanding its War Memorial Hall to set an exciting new standard for recreation and wellness integration on college campuses.

"The project unites their School of Education, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Hokie Wellness, collegiate recreation and human performance under a singular roof to best help students lead healthy lives," she said.

The Brantford YMCA/Wilfrid Laurier University Recreation Complex is an example of a successful partnership between a local university and community. The new center revitalizes Brantford, Ontario's downtown and offers an aquatics center, dedicated spaces for children, a gymnasium with retractable stadium seating, health intake consultation rooms for specialized community-based healthcare programs and much more.

In addition, at the University of Maryland, "Cole Fieldhouse is becoming an unrivaled multidisciplinary hub for sport, health, science, wellness and entrepreneurial education," McKenna said. "The project converts the historic Cole Field House basketball arena in the heart of campus into an indoor football practice facility, along with a Center for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, and Orthopedic Treatment Center and a new Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship."

Armstrong noted some other examples. "Functional fitness integrated within group exercises spaces," he said, "are found in our work at the Center of Recreation Excellence in Hobbs, N.M., and at the Eaton Area Community Center in Eaton, Colo. Both facilities include trusses in their ceilings for the integration of [suspension training] as well as well-organized storage for quick adaption for changeover between fitness classes."

On the subject of healthy eating and nutrition, Armstrong's firm designed a teaching kitchen at Moorhead Recreation Center in Aurora, Colo., that has glazed overhead doors that open on to an adjacent multipurpose meeting room.

"This allows for a variety of scale of classes, from a small, intimate experience to a larger gathering," he said.

"In terms of mental health and broader wellness, the UCCS Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center is an integrated center that offers both student recreation and health services on the UCCS campus in Colorado Springs, Colo.," he said. "Providing these facilities together in a single facility is an ever-increasing topic within collegiate recreation, as it is seen as a means of improving the student experience and breaking down barriers for improving health and well-being.

"Special care was taken in the design to provide an experience for the students that does not stigmatize those that come to the facility for health care and counseling," he added.

In addition, Sprague noted Campbell County Recreation Center in Gillette, Wyo., which has an indoor competitive track that can host NCAA track meets, as well as tennis on the infield separated by divider curtains.

"The basketball courts directly adjacent can serve as queueing areas for athletes, so the fieldhouse is kept orderly during competitions," he said. "'The Neighborhood' in Rochester, Minn., is a smorgasbord of multi-use opportunities. Filled with batting cages, a muti-use sportwall 'gym,' which can accommodate a dozen different activities, to aeroball and mini-golf, this themed 'exertainment zone' is the epitome of what the heart and soul of multipurpose design is all about."