Feature Article - July/August 2002
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Mutli-Use and Multiple Users

Faciltiy Models that Work for the Masses

By Mitch Martin

The military base

Even as the military is reaching out to the public with some multi-use projects, it is also entering into creative recreational projects on its own ground.

A particularly interesting project is the $4 million renovation of a huge WWII-era aircraft hangar that was already converted into a recreation and wellness center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Wright Patterson, which is located in southwest Ohio, is a sprawling military reservation serving as a center of Air Force logistics, procurement, development and research, among many missions.

Design for the Wright Patterson Air Force Base rec and wellness center.

The unique population of the air base meant the transformation of the massive hangar needed to be tailored to the unique demographic.

The project, which was completed last year, was carried out by the design team of St. Louis, Mo.-based Bond + Wolfe Architects and Edge & Tinney Architects in Dayton, Ohio.

One section of the facility was an advanced health center, known by the acronym HAWC (Health and Wellness Center). It includes a kitchen area for nutrition class, medical facilities, a dipping center for advanced weighing, and an alpha room that provides profound relaxation. (Alpha rooms provide a deep level of relaxation and are so named because they can produce alpha frequency brain waves in participants.)

"The Air Force is proving very advanced health training in the HAWC facility," Wolfe says.

Much of the rest of the facility was made up of traditional recreational areas: fitness, basketball courts, weight training and so on.

The military aspect of the 70,000-square-foot facility required a unique design consideration: security. The facility used a separated hallway running along the facility to move all people from different access points through a single check-in desk.

"The size of the facility allowed a simple answer to a serious problem," says principal architect Matthew Wolfe.

The new design also transformed little-used racquetball courts into a Spinning class area.

"Because of the height of the racquetball courts, they are very hard to convert to new uses," Wolfe says. Spinning seemed to be a good fit.