Guest Column - July 2011
Find a printable version here

Design Corner

Vibrant Centers of Community Identity

By Dan Zeller, AIA

University of Central Missouri

Sometimes joint-use facilities are shared by separate departments or divisions of the same owner. The University of Central Missouri's Campus Activities department (which governs extracurricular activity) needed space for a recreation center. Meanwhile, the department of Health and Human Performance (an academic department with a focus on the human body and athletics) needed expanded classroom and lab space.

The two groups recognized that a joint-use facility was potentially viable, both from a budgetary standpoint and in terms of available sites on campus. At this point, the project's architectural team, led by Gould Evans, began programming the building in conjunction with both groups.

Gymnasium spaces were needed by both groups, but the hours of need did not overlap and the gyms could be shared. Fitness space also found efficiencies through strategic design layout: A classroom space, needed for certain parts of the day to be isolated, is allowed to open for recreation use after classroom hours.

Classroom spaces were dedicated to Health and Human Performance but can be opened to general university classes if schedules allow in the future. Office spaces were dedicated between departments, but the common space is shared and is the joining element of the two departments. Within this space is the control point for student recreation as well as lounge space and a satellite café.

Aerobic-style rooms are also shared between departments because class and extracurricular schedules are coordinated with student recreation for use of one of the three aerobic rooms.

Certain significant design features permit overlapping uses of the building. One is an extended daily use schedule. Typical academic spaces are used by the university from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., a slower time for students who might use the student recreation spaces. After 3:30, the student recreation use jumps and continues to increase into the late evening. Because of the space sharing, the Morrow-Garrison Student Recreation and Wellness Center is heavily and consistently used from 6 a.m. until midnight every day of the week, making it the most highly used building on campus by students.

Another significant design feature is the controllability and security of spaces. The design took into account how different parts of the building would be used at different times of the day and which spaces would be used the entire time. Classrooms are grouped together, and access is controlled after hours so the entire building is not left open for staff to patrol. The student recreation space has a control desk located within the commons, which allows access control to the recreation side of the building. The control desk was strategically located within the commons so that anyone stationed at this point could "supervise" the commons while performing their task of control. The building spaces are open and transparent to limit the number of people required for supervision. The control desk is the heart of the building, where images of security cameras are displayed for everybody to see.

Flexible, multi-use spaces are yet another significant design feature. The six basketball courts are equally divided in the renovation and addition, with different court surfaces for multi-use activities. Intramurals are also scheduled in the gymnasium spaces and generally are shared with the gyms used for classroom exercises. Courts are available for students at any time of the day.

The fitness spaces are divided in two different areas of the building. One area, containing the fitness classroom and other equipment, is located on a mezzanine overlooking the commons area. The larger fitness area is located in the new addition and contains the remaining circuit training equipment and cardiovascular machines. The free-weights are isolated below the fitness floor to achieve the most privacy and noise control. The aerobic areas are grouped within the renovated building, allowing natural light in some rooms and diffused light in others. The access to all these spaces is controlled via the control desk, with some assistance from strategically placed walls and doors.