Guest Column - April 2009
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Design Corner: Control Central

The Control Desk Can't Be Ignored

By Keith Hayes

The type of control measures you choose will influence the shape and possibly the size of the control desk. Some centers prefer a completely enclosed desk area, while others choose a design with more open access.

Despite the best planning efforts, chances are the final design will have overlooked something and will need to be tweaked after completion.

For example, years ago our firm designed a recreation center for a Colorado mountain community that neglected to provide supplemental heating at the control desk. According to plan, the desk was strategically and correctly located near the entrance with excellent sight lines. Unfortunately, the vestibule was insufficient in preventing the staff turning blue from the flow of frigid air filling the lobby.

Finally, a considerable number of activities occur during a normal day at the control desk. And, as we have discussed, a surprising number of decisions need to be made about how best to design the desk. By all means, "sweat the details," but don't lose sight of your overall objective: to produce a relatively simple, flexible design that enhances human interaction and warmly welcomes your customers.

A well-designed control desk won't have the "wow factor" of many other exciting, innovative features in your recreation center. But, in the end, you will have created a seamless, welcoming entrance that—unlike airport security check-points—helps set the stage for a pleasant experience.


Keith Hayes, AIA, LEED AP, is a principal with Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture. Headquartered in Denver, Colo., BRS Architecture has designed more than a hundred recreation centers throughout the country. For more information, visit