Having designed scores of campus and community recreation centers in recent decades, our team was able to offer thoughts from multiple perspectives. The team’s quotes are below and the full article can be found online:
“Wellness is on the mind of almost every collegiate recreation administrator,” said Colleen McKenna, director of CannonDesign’s Sports, Recreation and Wellness practice. She says the definition of wellness has evolved to encompass a much more holistic view of mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. “Today’s students are more empowered than ever to track their activity levels, heart rates and stress indicators.”
McKenna said institutions are motivated now to move beyond just the physical aspects and create centers to help students achieve more holistic wellness, citing Virginia Tech’s War Memorial Hall project as an institution integrating recreation and wellness. Set to open in 2021, the facility will unite the university’s School of Education, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise, Hokie Wellness and Recreational Sports under a single roof. Basketball courts and weight and cardio spaces will mix with nutritional kitchens, relaxation spaces, touch-down counseling spaces and more.
Another focus of campus recreation departments is evolving their facilities to become more inclusive, said Jenny Delgado of CannonDesign. “We’re seeing new design opportunities like gender-neutral restrooms and locker facilities. We’re also seeing recreation departments introduce international sports like cricket and digital tech like e-sports to engage as much of the student population as possible.” Delgado also sees a rise in programming for individuals with cognitive, physical and sensory disabilities, helping them to achieve greater functional independence.
Eric Einhorn, vice president and Washington D.C. sports market leader for CannonDesign said that multidisciplinary integration is a current trend, with regard to college sports facilities. He points out that when institutions compete for top-tier athletes, a lot of focus is given to scholarships and innovative training and competition facilities that house jaw-dropping amenities. “However, increased focus on human performance, academic success and student-athlete health and safety is driving important shifts in facility development.”
Einhorn described the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House, a state-of-the-art football practice facility that surrounds traditional practice facility elements with unique complementary spaces, including the Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance; the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and the Orthopedic Clinical Treatment Center. “By blending academics, entrepreneurship, health sciences, care delivery and more, the dynamic building serves multiple purposes for athletes and coaches, as well as the campus and community.”
Reed Vorhees, senior vice president at CannonDesign, described how the MAC (multiuse activity court) has evolved since debuting in the 1990s. With advancements in sport flooring technologies and equipment, MACs accommodate a wide range of programming opportunities in addition to traditional basketball and volleyball programs, including indoor soccer, floor hockey and team handball, as well as Weekend Warrior training, sleep-ins, conferences and tradeshows. “We continue to see greater interest in highly flexible spaces that enable a broader range of creative programming opportunities, coupled with a desire by students for activities that contribute to a heightened level of energy throughout buildings with unique features that allow unique design solutions.”
McKenna said sustainability is a fey focus for most of their clients, so they need to be aware of leading-edge materials and engineering solutions to meet these goals. “We’ve designed hockey rinks with refrigeration systems that can make ice and generate heat for buildings, we’ve designed football practice facilities that rely on 100% natural ventilation—there’s a ton of creativity when it comes to sustainable design.”