Posted in education on November 11, 2014 9:50 am EST

Did Somebody Say “Sports & Fitness Facility Design”?

Multi-use is the buzzword today -- and the design form that's taking shape in churches across the country.

Architects say that the demand for full-sized fitness centers or gyms has given way to a more thoughtful discussion about a new building’s precise usage and ways to maximize its flexibility.


 

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TAGS: business, community connection, community kitchen, fitness facility design, multipurpose, sporting equipment,

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By Ed Van Herik

When building committees at houses of worship look to expand their campuses, they seldom are looking to add full-sized gyms anymore, architects say. That type of facility was more popular 10 to 15 years ago, says Trung Doan of Studio Red Architects in Houston. “Unless there is a school component, churches can’t afford to build an 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot space and use it [only] three hours a day or two days a week.”

Architects say that the demand for full-sized fitness centers or gyms has given way to a more thoughtful discussion about a new building’s precise usage and ways to maximize its flexibility. Today, churches are first asking what specific functions a new center is expected to fill, who will use it, how many others will use it for other purposes, and what those purposes might be.

Purpose & nuance

“These are the kinds of discussions we’re seeing now,” says Ben Heimsath of Heimsath Architects in Austin, Texas. “They are much more nuanced.” Eric MacInerney at Heimsath Architects reports that often the church center is built before the sanctuary, making those early decisions crucial to the church’s later development.

While it is still common to find a multipurpose facility built a decade or more ago whose primary use is for basketball, it is also common to see that facility paired with a kitchen and often a stage. Doan says such “cafetoriums” can cater to church dinners, fund-raisers, basketball and volleyball games and Scouting events. Today, churches have added theatrical performances, including praise and worship services, onto the list of functions of a multipurpose room, and—sometimes—they even serve as funeral parlors.

“The Salvation Army has a community mission” in Dallas, and it is building a series of community centers with fitness facilities to serve as a magnet for the surrounding community.

—Trung Doan, Studio Red Architects, Houston, TX

For builders today, that type of facility will sport more technology, including Wi-Fi and an enhanced AV system, with theatrical lighting and projectors for hi-definition video. As the building’s accessories become more elaborate, budget issues provide added impetus to picking priorities.

Doan reports that early conceptual discussions sometimes lead a house of worship away from building a rec center. “One church client was thinking about a gym, but realized it was not the business they were in,” he says.  continued >>

 

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