Guest Column - January 2009
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Design Corner: Partnering for Win-Win Results

By Mike Williams

Partners in Promoting Health

One seemingly natural alliance can be observed in partnerships that pair organizations that offer healthcare services with public entities charged with providing recreation and fitness opportunities to community members.

In two significant park and recreation center projects, public park and recreation clients linked up with area healthcare service providers to achieve facility solutions for both participants in the respective partnerships.

In the case of the Glenview Park Center, a Glenview (Ill.) Park District facility initiative that yielded a 168,000-square-foot recreation center that opened in 2000, a local healthcare company was tapped to participate in the project. A subsequent partnership was established between the hospital organization and the park agency, wherein the former rents from the latter 10,000 square feet of space for use as a wellness center.

Similarly, some 30 miles away at the Centre of Elgin in Elgin, Ill., space in the 185,000-square-foot community/recreation center opened by the city in 2003 was dedicated for use by a local hospital, which conducts therapeutic activities for patients looking to restore physical capabilities following an accident or illness. The 12,000-square-foot wellness center located in the community center further underscores a commitment to community health, while drawing revenue to help the city operate the multi-component complex.

Aside from dedicated space applications, shared use of amenities—such as warm-water therapy pools and fitness equipment—can afford economic benefits to both organizations in a facility partnership, an advantage that is especially desirable in an era in which both public entities and healthcare providers are conscious of cost concerns.

Two Visions Combine

When multiple organizations can combine visions for a project—and back up the concept derived from the alliance with unified financial and planning resources to realize a new sports or recreation facility—they can fulfill otherwise financially impractical or perhaps altogether unattainable objectives.

Initiatives to develop a facility that is owned and/or operated jointly can yield "win-win" results for the parties involved, securing economies that would have been difficult, if not out of the question, for each partner had they tried to "go it alone."


Mike Williams is founder and chief executive officer of Williams Architects Ltd., a leader in recreation architecture in the Midwest. He is a registered architect licensed in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida and Nebraska, and has extensive background in recreation facility planning, design and construction. For more information, visit