Feature Article - November 2006
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Magnificently Multipurpose

Managing all-around facilities

By Kelli Anderson

Divide and conquer

Ultimately, the goal is to get the most activities out of the same space—what could be more cost-efficient? For most field houses, gymnasium spaces or even smaller multipurpose rooms, choosing dividers to break the area into designated zones is an effective, logical solution. Dividers break up the space both visually and acoustically.

Whether dropping nets or curtains from the ceiling, raising them from the floor, rolling out partitions, or setting up a contained space like a batting cage, dividers come in a lot of forms, from solid structure to sheer netting. For the most part, floor-to-ceiling varieties are your best bet for acoustic control and for visual delineation.

When dividing the space for athletic activities, lightweight (netted or fabric) dividers will usually do the trick to allow simultaneous game play and clearly delineate the boundaries. When recreational spaces give way to social events—meetings, receptions, ceremonies—dividers should have a more visual impact and provide acoustic control.

For the Lower Sioux Community Center in Redwood Falls, Minn., the multipurpose gymnasium is also the site for funerals and lock-ins.

"We lay out a floor mat so tables and chairs won't scratch the floor," said Pete Nez, recreation director. "We then use a divider curtain that drops down from the ceiling to visually divide the space for one side to be a reception area and the other for the funeral."

Although the curtain is not intended to be an acoustic barrier, it does separate the room for the purpose of privacy.