Feature Article - September 2006
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Special Report:
Recreation Managementís First Annual State of the Industry Report

Our First Annual Recreation Forecast

Five Key Points

Community recreation centers need to embrace technology as easily as any corporate facility. Fitness equipment, now and in the future, will be connected to the Internet. Fitness logs, real-time competition and online coaching have become a reality. Weight fitness equipment is rapidly changing and will take advantage of connectivity to enhance fitness enjoyment and effectiveness.

College recreation buildings are here to stay and will evolve, incorporating program elements such as libraries, student centers, wellness and clinic facilities. University campuses are beginning to add to the variety of programs and activities in recreation centers, blurring the definition of a student recreation center and a student union. This fusion of activities is an exciting evolution of the building type and reinforces the mission of most colleges and universities to achieve a balanced academic, social and healthy education.

Recreation buildings are becoming more iconic. These facilities have become an important component of the social fabric of many communities and are being identified as points of pride. They are a tangible expression of the value a community places on quality of life and represent an optimistic investment in the future.

Recreation facilities need to be designed for future growth. As word spreads about the benefits and value of the facility, an increase in the culture of use can be anticipated that will necessitate the expansion of the facility. The facility should be designed with a growth plan to protect the architectural integrity and to assure the site will be adequately sized for its future success.

Continued awareness of the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices will accelerate demand for recreation/ fitness centers in the municipal and college and university communities. As people learn more and more about their health and how to maintain it, greater emphasis will be placed on access to facilities with the latest amenities and programs.

Dave Larson, AIA
Senior Vice President of TMP Associates, Inc.

Facility Funding and Partnerships

While the demands for municipal recreation continue to grow, cities are being hard hit by rising construction prices and even thinner financial resources. In order to overcome the financial obstacles prevalent in today's marketplace, an increasing number of communities are taking a more aggressive approach in finding innovative ways to fund projects, particularly the community recreation facility. In addition to such creative financial tools as state sales-tax initiatives, corporate donors and the increased availability of grant funding-such as energy grants for sustainable building design-communities are becoming increasingly creative in finding ways to attract strategic partners with compatible vision and goals.

Although it is not uncommon to see partners in community recreation facilities such as libraries, community theatres, hospital wellness programs and partner cities, an increasing number of communities are considering these associations and other public-private partnerships as a means to provide the financial support that enables a dream to become reality. While partnerships can include physical and/or contractual relationships (no, we're not talking about couples here), communities are becoming more creative in establishing strategic alliances with compatible organizations such as neighboring communities, schools, day-care providers, YMCAs, Boy's and Girl's Clubs, corporations, and even private fitness providers. While it is important to determine these partnerships early in the process and preferably before the design phase is initiated, it is equally important to organize facilities with maximum flexibility to allow for adaptation to changing programs and markets.

Reed I. Voorhees, AIA
Vice President, Cannon Design