Award Winner - July/August 2003
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Basically Bullet-Proof for Boys

The Haverford School Athletic Facility
Haverford, Pa.

With its roots dating back to 1884, The Haverford School, an independent day school for boys from junior kindergarten to 12th grade in suburban Philadelphia, has a long, interesting history. But new history was in the making for the school when the campus was in dire need of updated athletic facilities.

Planners first looked at renovating and expanding the existing athletic building, the original parts of which dated back the early 1930s and the beginning of the Great Depression.


"Unfortunately, none of the spaces met any of the new high-school sports regulations," says architect Maarten Pesch, principal in charge of the project. "We concluded that there were too many things wrong to fix."

So it was decided to demolish the old structure and start over from scratch. But there was a catch: The school simply couldn't go without a facility for a year during construction, so the venerable building was put to one more final use as a temporary gym. It would be torn down after the new facility was up and running. Of course, this meant that the new building's footprint could not overlap with the old's, making space very tight.

"Because the [athletic] program was so varied, and the site condensed, we were so constricted, we had to stack the new program spaces, and that's an expensive thing to do," Pesch says. "But the minute you begin to stack functions, you can turn that into an advantage and create a really open feeling."

The result is a multistory athletic facility that provides upper-level spaces that double as interior spectator areas for the main field house as well as offer views of the main playing field outdoors.

"It's unique for a high school—it allowed us to use galleries to separate the public from the student athletes," Pesch says. "And because it's a facility for boys, we selected finishes that were almost bullet-proof."

Meanwhile, views from the upper-level circulation and office areas into the main program spaces allow for easy supervision by faculty and staff as well as give students a peek at other activities. In the old facility, practically everything was closed off behind its own door or down narrow corridors.

"By allowing the public spaces to overlook the program spaces, not only did we address the security/visibility issues, but it gets students excited about other sports they can now see," Pesch says. "The wrestling gym, for example, is an incredible mulituse space."

Also contributing to that open feel is the extensive use of windows that lures daylight inside to enrich all the program areas as well as encourages a connection between the campus quadrangle on one side and the outdoor playing field on the other.

"It's a very collegiate-like campus, and they wanted the new building to have a college-feel and fit into the scale of campus," Pesch says. "People were concerned that they did not want to lose the traditional feel of the old building. We didn't want to forget about the past but instead pay homage to it."

"Nice contemporary design, which fits in well within the surrounding campus."

—Reed I. Voorhees

"Very successfully integrated site, program and image without compromise. Looks as good as a big-budget building should. Successfully Georgian with just the right amount of contemporary flair."

—Paul Brailsford

Submitted by: Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC in Philadelphia

Size: 82,500 square feet

Project cost: $11 million

Quick tour:

  • Wrestling pavilion with two regulation mats, a baseball batting cage and spectator seating
  • 25-meter pool with diving board and elevated spectator seating
  • 22,000-square-foot field house with hardwood floor, four basketball and volleyball courts, and spectator seating
  • Squash pavilion with four international squash courts, courtside spectator seating and elevated spectator seating
  • 3,000-square-foot training/weight/workout facility with free weights and 40 workout machines
  • Trainers facility equipped with whirlpools and equipment
  • Three classrooms with projection and chalk-talk capabilities
  • Locker rooms, including separate middle- and upper-school locker rooms, pool locker rooms, as well as male and female locker rooms for coaches and staff
  • Support facilities such as athletic department offices, storage rooms, equipment storage, laundry room, elevators, student lounge, two concession stands, and indoor and outdoor accessible public restrooms
  • Outdoor facilities include game field with multipurpose artificial playing surface, a synthetic all-weather running track, and field event area with built-in spectator seating

Associated Firms

Project manager/site contractor: Rufo Contracting

General contractor: J.J. DeLuca Company, Inc.

Structural engineer: David Chou & Associates, Inc.

Mechanical/electrical/plumbing: McHugh Engineering, Inc.

Lighting consultant: Lighting Design Collaborative

Pool consultant: Paddock Atlantic

Civil engineers: Momenee and Associates

Specifications consultant: Focus Collaborative, Inc.

Sports surfaces: Mondo America Inc., Superior Floor Company Inc.

Ceramic mosaic tile: Dal Tile

Lockers and benches: Penco Products Inc.

Aquatic components: Paddock Pool Equipment Co., Adolph Kiefer & Associates

Timing systems/scoreboards: Fair Play Scoreboards, Colorado Time Systems

Bleachers: Interkal

Sports equipment: Porter Athletic Equipment Co., Mancino, Resilite Sports Products Inc.

Fitness equipment: Reebok, True Fitness Technology, Inc. , Cybex International, Life Fitness/Hammer Strength

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