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How an Athletic Facility Becomes the Heartbeat of a Campus

08.17.17 / BY ARC

Building a new athletic facility on an academic campus is an opportunity to create more than just a place to play sports. These multi-faceted facilities are increasingly becoming important, dynamic hubs for campus activity and school pride.

“A thoughtfully designed facility can reinforce the context of the campus,” said ARC President Philip Laird. “It is also an opportunity to address common campus issues such as pedestrian flow, campus connectivity, student wellness and vehicular circulation.”

As the Phillips Exeter Academy (PEA) Field House project in New Hampshire rolls steadily toward construction completion, the transformative benefits to the school’s South Campus are becoming evident. ARC worked closely with PEA to site the new building and design a pedestrian pathway around the field house, giving students better connectivity to athletic facilities, open spaces and sports fields. The design will shift vehicular circulation toward a new underground parking garage, which makes use of a significant grade change in the foundation of the field house. The improved configuration of pedestrian and vehicular traffic will result in a safer, quieter and more secure environment for students.

Drone footage of the PEA field house construction shows a new vehicle circulation pattern that will direct traffic to the new parking garage below the field house. A portion of the roadway is being converted to a pedestrian path, offering safe student access between the field house, athletic fields and main campus. (image credit: Harvey Construction)

Inside the new space, a multi-purpose function room and wrestling mezzanine will offer flexibility for ad hoc athletic and campus activities and events. The facility will also provide indoor practice and game space for sports impacted by harsh New England weather, including track and field areas, tennis courts, and batting cages. The PEA community anticipates this new, versatile field house to support their varied needs and serve as a central hub of activity on campus.

Construction of the PEA Field House is well underway. A comparison of the rendering and progress shot above shows the wrestling mezzanine and function room overlooking the 200-meter competition track space on the main level.

Similar trends in campus transformation and connectivity are apparent at Hackley School’s Walter C. Johnson Center for Health and Wellness in Tarrytown, New York. This 115,000 SF complex, slated for construction completion this winter, will serve as a link between the historic academic core and athletic fields on campus. Sitting on a heavily wooded landscape, the facility will offer a dynamic new connection for the campus, while preserving outdoor nature paths – an important feature in the character of the site.

Drone footage shows construction progress of Hackley School’s Johnson Center for Health and Wellness. The space is designed to offer indoor and outdoor pathways that connect the main campus to the athletic fields beyond the facility. (image credit: Consigli Construction)

The building features two gymnasiums, an eight-lane pool, eight-court squash center, wrestling room, fencing room, fitness center, and weight training room. Designed to be more than a sports complex, the new space also includes nutrition classrooms and exercise studios to serve as wellness teaching spaces, as well as a mezzanine jogging track accessible to all Hackley community members. The inclusion of these non-athletic program spaces, along with thoughtful siting in a central location, will make this building a focal point of activity on campus.

As seen in this lobby rendering of Hackley School’s Johnson Center for Health and Wellness, the space is designed to serve as a hub for student life and wellness programs beyond just athletics.

Institutes of higher education and independent schools alike are embracing this holistic approach to athletic facility design, and ARC is excited to support so many of our clients as they transform and enhance their campuses.

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