Feature Article - May 2011
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Suit Yourself

Locker Rooms to Fit Your Facility

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Start by Thinking

You may be ready to leap into action—comparing tile samples and thumping on a variety of locker doors—but the place to begin is actually much quieter: Think about your facility and how it's used or will be used: by whom, at what times of the day and for what activities. At the most basic level, locker rooms have to meet certain legal and comfort requirements (more on those in a moment), but knowing how to create the right space means knowing your users and their goals and intentions for the time they spend at your facility.

Springs suggested visiting facilities of similar size and amenities and getting some feedback about what works and what doesn't work with their locker room setup.

"One thing that can drive [the design of your locker rooms] is who you're serving," he said. "If you're geared toward families, you'll need more cubbies. You'll have lots of kids and moms who are day visitors."

If your users are all coming at once—on their way to work or when the swim team practices—you'll need to have enough showers, mirrors, sinks, electrical outlets and electricity to accommodate a rush.

"Sometimes including the maximum possible number of lockers is the owner's biggest goal," said Christopher J. Rollhaus, AIA, LEED AP, a senior associate at Hastings & Chivetta Architects in St. Louis. But someone coming in to work out before heading to the office won't want to cram their suit jacket or nice shirt into a 12-inch-by-12-inch locker, he explained.

Careful consideration is also key if you're planning a multiuse building, such as one that might be used for public games and events, as well as for private individuals to exercise. With the right planning, you could create locker rooms that can be closed and locked during public events, while still providing spectator access to the attached toilet facilities, Rollhaus noted.

Finally, determining your target market will guide you toward the appropriate finishes and amenities for your locker rooms. At a country club, the locker rooms might be used by all age groups—seniors to children—but the target market is adults who've paid for a membership, so the space should be tailored to their expectations and ability to care for it, said Greg Houston, AIA, a partner at Marmon Mok Architecture in San Antonio, Texas. In contrast, at a municipal recreation center "the target is a wider demographic, which may include unsupervised children, so the locker facility has to be designed a different way, with more durable finishes," he said.