Feature Article - May/June 2006
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Fourth Annual Innovative Architecture and Design Awards

The Competition Heats Up

The Competition Heats Up

When it comes to our annual facility design competition, innovation is clearly the name of the game.

Take, for example, a complicated urban site where the only space to build is up and over an existing swimming pool. Or a community center that has to serve multiple generations, all on an unforgiving municipal budget.

To tackle such design obstacles requires plenty of innovation. Luckily, all our winners were up to their own particular challenges.

Whether it's a health club, community center, stadium, park, arena or aquatic area—or any combination of those—each project poses a unique set of trials and tribulations to its planners. And not only does a recreation, sports or fitness facility have to overcome such roadblocks and prove its functionality, these days it also must be an instant crowd-pleaser to boot—not to mention attractive, cozy, captivating and comfortable. Oh, and don't forget universally accessible, safe, maintainable and easy on the budget.

That's a mighty big list, which is where innovation comes into play. Designers have tricky tasks to fulfill, charged with conjuring up creative solutions to challenging situations, from tight funding and spaces to complex amenities and customers.

With all this in mind, we are please to present the results of our fourth annual Innovative Architecture and Design competition. With design innovation, as always, the title goal, we were searching for facilities, new or recently renovated, that are helping to set standards of excellence in the recreation community. Winners were chosen by our panel of judges, with the hopes of highlighting the best and most interesting projects the recreation industry has to offer,

A big thanks to all who entered—what an impressive field of interesting projects. You made the judging difficult. There were so many notable projects submitted that all the entries helped lift the competition to an excellent level.

While many factors were taken into consideration (design, construction, programming, site, operational and budget issues, for example), our panel endeavored to judge each facility on its own merits and scope, with our goal targeted at rewarding creative design ideas, such as overcoming both universal and unique design challenges.

Also note that this was not a contest of budgets. We simply want to present those facilities that strive to be the most inventive, fresh and resourceful, whatever their size or cost.

The buzzword our judges constantly kept in mind was "innovative," hence again the title of this competition. A winning facility could be small and spartan or huge and grand, just as long as its design is inventive and serves the needs of its community, above and beyond. Each project was evaluated and scored under its own circumstances, given the picture the entrant painted for us. However, obviously, this was still a competition, and it was only natural that entries ultimately were compared to one another.

In addition to relevant design, construction, programming, site, operational and budget factors, entrants were also asked to answer the following questions representing the core of the competition criteria:

  • What is the facility's recreational value? How is this facility serving its community's needs?

  • What is the project value? (value vs. cost, in terms of bang for the buck)

  • What's innovative about the project? In what ways is it unique and creative in its design?

  • How is its aesthetic presentation? Does it create visual excitement and comfort, inside and out?

  • What is the design concept for this project? How well does it meet its functional and operational expectations?

It's our hope that we recognize facilities that will serve as prime examples to our readers as well as inspire clever ideas for other facilities.

A hearty congratulations to the Winners. You do our industry proud.

F I N E R   P O I N T S

Here are more specifics of the criteria by which all entries were judged:

Recreational value (serving patrons' needs, impact on community, fulfilling project's goals)

Appearance, indoor (creating visual excitement and comfort, good use of textures and colors, interesting focal points and features)

Appearance, outdoor (curb appeal, site improvements, "fit" into the natural landscape)

Originality of plan and design (proportion and scale, clever use of space, smart layout, interesting features)

Craftsmanship (attention to detail, harmony of materials, quality of construction)

Functional and operational elements (logical use of space, easy to manage and maintain, safe and efficient for staff and patrons, efficient uses of energy or natural resources)

Innovative design (overall impression of how this project fits this award, based on the facility's originality, creativity, uniqueness and project value)

O U R   2 0 0 6   P A N E L   O F   J U D G E S

We sincerely are grateful to our jury panel members for sharing their time and expertise with us. Thank you for all the valuable comments and insight.

Frank G. Beans

Frank G. Beans, AIA, has been a member of The Collaborative Inc in Toledo, Ohio, since 1977 and became a partner of the firm in 1990. He has led the master planning, programming and design phases of more than 35 recreation projects ranging from student recreation centers to community centers and from country clubs to major resorts. A member of several professional organizations, he has presented at local, state and national conventions on the topic of recreation design and construction. He earned a degree in architecture from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

Gregory Garlock

Gregory Garlock, AIA, is a senior associate with DLR Group in Omaha, Neb. As an integral part of DLR Group's national sports group, Greg has an extensive sports design portfolio. His responsibilities include the coordination and direction of design activities from early project development, programming and concepts through project completion. Leading the discovery in the design process, several of his recent significant projects include the renovations to the University of Texas Baseball UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin, the renovation of Tempe Diablo Baseball Stadium in Phoenix and the Qwest Center Convention Center and Arena in Omaha.

Christopher Kastelic

Christopher Kastelic, AIA, LEED, is a partner at Sink Combs Dethlefs Architecture in Denver. He received his architecture degree from the University of Arizona. Since joining Sink Combs Dethlefs, he has worked on numerous projects including the award-winning Fort Lewis College Student Life Center, the Fort Lupton Recreation Center and Study, the Charles Whitlock Recreation Center, and the newly renovated Rainbow Ballroom that now serves as the firm's headquarters.

Colleen McKenna

Colleen McKenna, Associate AIA, LEED, is a vice president with Cannon Design in Boston as well as a project designer. Over the course of her 14-year professional career she has served on the design teams of more than 40 sports and recreation facility projects ranging from feasibility and programming studies to full architectural services for aquatic centers, college and university recreation centers, athletic training facilities, spectator arenas, and community centers. Her diverse portfolio of work includes Games Planning for the London 2012 Olympic Bid Committee.

Kenneth J. Ogden

Kenneth J. Ogden, AIA, has worked in the field of architecture for 22 years. As a principal at OgdenRoemerWilkerson Architecture in Medford, Ore., Ken's specialty areas of expertise are in the programming and design of medical and educational facilities and high-end custom residences. Other areas of experience include civic and government projects, recreation and entertainment facilities, senior housing, and multi-family dwellings. He is active in many professional and civic organizations and a graduate of the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Jason Tramonte Jr.

Jason Tramonte Jr. has been a project designer with Houston architecture firm Kirksey since 2002. His responsibilities include design and design direction for all phases of master planning, base building and interior design projects. As a LEED Accredited professional, he was the lead project designer of Houston's first LEED Certified building. He attended the University of Applied Arts, Vienna and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in architecture from the University of Houston.


And the Envelope Please...

A round of applause to the following facilities:

Cedar Hill Recreation Center

Berkeley High School Student Union and Recreation Complex

David D. Hunting Branch YMCA

University of Illinois-Chicago West Campus Sport and Fitness Facility

University of Alabama at Birmingham Campus Recreation Center

The Kiva Club & Alvea Spa at Trilogy Vistancia

Crunch Fitness North & Sheffield

Renaud Spirit Center

Cardel Place

Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center


We also are pleased to offer profiles of the following facilities that were submitted to us to share and sponsored by the firm that entered them:

Canada Games Centre

Discovery Island Waterpark

Douglas H. Buck Community Recreation Center

Florida International University Recreation Center

Francis Family YMCA

Greeley Ice Haus

Henry Moses Aquatic Center

Milford/Orange YMCA

MVP Sportsplex

Recreation Center at Southridge

Robert Livermore Community Center

University of Missouri-Columbia Student Recreation Complex