Editor's Desk - May 2007
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It's All About the People

As we put the finishing touches on this issue, which spotlights the winners of our annual Innovative Architecture & Design Awards competition, I find myself contemplating those amenities and features that energize recreation, sports and fitness facilities.

The winners in this year's competition are impressive facilities, beautifully designed inside and out. One facility features a creative lighting system with colors that change according to the events being held within. Another takes a unique approach to tight design parameters by stacking one gymnasium on top of another—with all of the design and engineering challenges that go with such a task. More than one facility features an enormously complex program, with enormous structures and complex designs to serve those needs. Creative renovations are also included, with one facility moving an entrance from one side to the other to make it more accessible to patrons, and another turning an underground parking garage into a beautiful fitness area. Two unique aquatic facilities are represented, raising the bar for aquatic design in communities and on college campuses across the nation. A creative approach to urban design, an innovative take on incorporating a structure into its wooded surroundings—all of the winning facilities this year are outstanding among their peers.

But of course, these places are about much more than façades and interiors. They're about more than pools, gyms, arenas and cardio machines. Recreation, sports and fitness facilities are about people. The designers and planners who spend countless hours poring over their plans to ensure they create a place that energizes and engages its patrons. The owners who develop important missions of wellness and determine the need to reach their community with recreation and fitness options. The directors and managers who run those facilities and create innovative programming options for their patrons. And most of all, the community itself.

Without the people who enliven these facilities, they'd be beautiful buildings, but empty, and ultimately purposeless. That's why the planning and design process is so important. Without a good plan, without a great design, the people will not show up. The community will not be engaged.

So going beyond the innovation of the designers who created the impressive facilities profiled beginning on page 22, I'd also like to call attention to some of our other entrants. Not necessarily for their designs—which are all stunning—but for their mission to engage the community and bring people together.

Two of the facilities highlighted on our pages created a scholarship program to allow underprivileged families to take part in aquatics and fitness programming.

We feature multiple universities whose new recreation facilities were driven by a commitment to holistic wellness among their students.

More than one facility on these pages was designed to reach traditionally underserved populations in lower-income areas.

One entrant's renovation was driven by a desire to improve access for the disabled and create new programming for handicapped patrons.

Multiple entrants this year expressed a commitment to educating their patrons about environmental issues and sustainability.

One entrant took that mission even further, earning LEED certification for its many environmentally friendly features.

I invite you to read through the profiles of our winners, as well as our other highlighted projects, to see what you can learn—not just from the creative and innovative design approaches taken by the architects, engineers and others who planned these facilities, but also from the unique approaches to building community, to ensuring all can get involved in recreation, sports and fitness opportunities.

Next year, I hope to see your facility highlighted on these pages!


Emily Tipping, Editor

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