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The Importance of STEM in K-12 Schools

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) might seem like a buzz word or a trend these days, but demand for careers in these fields are steadily increasingly. Our economy and overall well-being depend heavily on STEM-related occupations—whether it is computer programming, manufacturing, civil engineering, or general family medicine. Getting kids involved and interested in STEM-related activities at a young age, even if they don’t pursue a STEM degree in the future, teaches them problem-solving skills, how to interact with technology, and instills creativity.

Here are some quick stats from the Smithsonian Science Education Center on the importance of STEM:

STEM stats

How can STEM-related fields help the world?
  • Improving sanitation and access to clean water to the 780 million people who currently without clean water
  • Balancing our footprint as energy demand and consumption is increasing at rapid rates
  • Improving agricultural practices to help feed the 870 million people in the world suffering from hunger
  • Fighting global climate change
  • Caring for a large aging population – just think about the 74 million Baby Boomers who are alive today

To get children today ready for a career in the future, it is imperative we pique their interest in the STEM field as early as possible. Getting a program set in place in the classroom is a perfect way to start. So how can we, as architects and engineers, help schools with STEM programs? Take a look at two examples below to see how we’ve helped our Owners prepare kids for their futures:

 

Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

STEM - Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the MLK Community Center

The Martin Luther King Community Center is a profoundly important community resource in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood in Indianapolis. Through a grant from Best Buy and local support, the MLK Center was able to make a considerable investment in access to technology. In order to help this project, come to fruition, Schmidt Associates was hired to take the dream and translate it into a built reality. This Teen Tech Center gives teens a safe place to go to learn, grow, create, and prepare for their futures.

The Teen Tech Center provides training and internship opportunities, where teens can learn about robotics, 3D design, music production, and more. Nationwide, there are currently 22 Best Buy Teen Tech Centers – a number Best Buy hopes to triple by 2020. 95% of teens who attend these centers plan on pursuing education after high school, and 71% plan to pursue a field in STEM. As Indianapolis welcomes more and more jobs in the STEM fields, this center will make sure the future workforce is well-prepared for a brighter future.

 

Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

STEM - Decatur Township School for Excellence – Innovation and Design Hub

The MSD of Decatur Township is a diverse school district, offering innovative initiatives to their students and members of their community. This new, state-of-the-art Innovation and Design Hub is available for students of all grade levels, teachers, and faculty district-wide to use while expanding their learning capabilities for future careers and pathways in STEM and other areas.

The space includes interactive promethium boards, 3D printers, audio/visual production, a computer programming lab, and more technologies to help students develop better computer, problem-solving, and design thinking skills. It is also flexible in design, replicating an open lab concept to host many people at one time while also providing quiet environments and presentation spaces. Students have the chance to work directly with local industry partners to further increase their knowledge and experience specific to their chosen pathway.

 

If you have any questions about how to get your school or community center equipped with STEM-related spaces, please reach out!

“One of the things that my experience has taught me is that if you are trained as a scientist in your youth – through your high school and college – if you stay with the STEM disciplines, you can learn pretty much all of the subjects as you move along in life. And your scientific disciplines play a very important role and ground you very well as you move into positions of higher and higher authority, whatever the job is.”

– Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi

Community Engagement

A building project is far more than pieces and parts that define spaces.

Projects reflect the goals and aspirations of the communities they serve.

Schmidt Associates views community engagement as an essential part of our strategic, data-based planning, giving Owners information to evaluate viable options and make good decisions. We take a proactive role in planning for public meetings that inform, gather feedback, and incorporate public input to achieve a relevant facility solution that the public can support.

In order to understand what is truly important in the eyes of the end user, we like to become part of the “fabric of the community” by gathering input directly from community members and project stakeholders throughout our process. Here are a handful of community engagement tactics we typically use:

Community Workshops

The target audience for these workshops are neighboring businesses, residents, the end users, students and parents, property and business owners, others who visit and work within the area, etc.

These workshops can range from presentations with Q&A, to an open-ended SWOT analysis, to interactive display boards where people can vote on the types of spaces, furniture, aesthetics, etc. they like the best. Depending on the scope of the project, these could be hour-long sessions, last a few hours, or be an open-house where attendees can interact and ask questions for as long as they need.

We want to hear from as many community members as possible, which can be hard to do. Some tactics we utilize to ensure these workshops are as convenient as possible are:

  • Setting up a variety of time slots, across several days, held in various locations—in the evening after the school day, Saturday morning with coffee and donuts, on a Sunday after church services, etc. It all depends on each unique community and type of project.
  • Providing childcare options, if children aren’t an integrated part of the workshop process. For example, we can meet with community members at a school with child-friendly activities held in the gym under the supervision of adults.
  • Offering a variety of input methods—like notecards, email, and limited access blogs—to ensure the quiet voices are heard and allow 24/7 access to the conversation.

Community Engagement - Community Workshops

Stakeholder Meetings

This is where we gather key targeted stakeholders and leadership in a casual environment to build interest and allow their influence on the project. We quickly share the community workshop findings and offer a brainstorming session to continue building ideas and support for the project. Our team then creates a deliverable that can be posted to a website and distributed to the community, stakeholders, and other interest groups.

The targeted attendees typically include property and business owners, developers, and neighborhood and city representatives. We take similar approaches to making these meetings as convenient for the stakeholders as we did with the community workshops. As the planning process moves forward, we often will reconnect with these stakeholders to communicate any findings, recommendations, and intent of the results.

Community Engagement - Stakeholders

Community Empowerment

The plan for any project must be intentional and community-driven so stakeholders will feel a sense of ownership. To create community empowerment, we have found that allowing physical, deliberate interaction with the space is essential. Together, we will visit the physical space and brainstorm ideas on-site, allowing the realities of the space to influence decision making.

Another approach we often take is to attend community, city council, or PTO meetings.

Community Engagement - Community Empowerment

Project Blogs

Along with our physical approach to community engagement, we also leverage technology to bring it all together. We have successfully used a blog on projects to have a way for the community, stakeholders, and Owners to see the progress and to offer input. This is a controlled way to manage feedback and disperse current information, as determined by the project’s leadership team. Each blog features a “Make a Comment” button which sends comments as emails to Schmidt Associates. This way, we can receive comments, review with the Owner, and post appropriate responses.

We have used a link to our website to post the ongoing status of the project—from planning through construction—to keep the public involved and informed throughout the process.

Community Engagement - Project Blogs

Ultimately, only community projects built on community input can maximize their influence and create shared ownership and investment. If you have questions about our community engagement process or want to learn more about how we can help you with your next project – reach out!

Top 6 Things to Know when Considering Adaptive Reuse

We have all heard the real estate mantra “Location, location, location!” However, great location does not also lead to perfect buildings. In fact, oftentimes the least perfect building is situated right on the site you want. And while some may consider a total demolition and rebuild as the only option, there are oftentimes a lot of arguments for adaptive reuse. Buildings that have been neglected, abandoned, or modified over the years are all great candidates for this type of project. Through adaptive reuse, older historic buildings can be restored – bringing back their charm and unique characteristics through careful planning and strategic design.

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House - Prior to Renovation

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House – Prior to Renovation

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House - After

St. Joseph Brewery & Public House – After

If you’re considering adaptive reuse for your next project, here are the top six things you need to know:

  1. Land Availability. When land in the area you want is hard to come by, adaptive reuse is a great option. Rather than contributing to urban sprawl, or moving to a less than desirable location, revitalizing a building in need allows you to conserve space. This type of project is one of the best ways to keep our cities and towns walkable and vibrant.
  2. Environmental Conservation. While the easy solution often appears to be building from scratch, the truth is this type of thinking can cause a lot of complications down the road, including added cost. Remember in elementary school when they taught us “reduce, reuse and recycle”? The first step in reducing our environmental footprint is to reduce our use of materials. Adaptive reuse is a choice to care for the buildings that have already been built and to help us get out of the mindset of constantly consuming. If there’s one thing we will never get more of, it’s land.
  3. Historic Consideration. One of the beauties of working with historic buildings is that you constantly discover hidden treasures. From unique features to hard-to-come-by materials, many historic buildings are proof we really “don’t build ‘em like we used to.” Adaptive reuse not only allows us to preserve a part of history, but it also allows projects to take advantage of these ‘trademarks’ of historic buildings, showcasing them now and into the future. In some cases, adaptive reuse is the only option, especially when you are dealing with buildings that are preserved and protected by organizations, such as historical societies.
  4. Reimagining Function. Although adaptive reuse strives to preserve many of the architectural features of buildings, there is a great deal of reimagining that can take place throughout the project. Buildings built for a certain prior use do not need to continue that use to be successful. Old chapels can become inns, water towers can be converted into apartments, and industrial buildings transformed to residential homes. When the location is right, and you mix in a little creativity – anything is possible.
  5. Future Accommodation. Needs are constantly changing, which is something adaptive reuse understands. Just because older buildings – even ones only a few decades old – may no longer meet the standards or desires of today’s businesses and property owners, doesn’t mean they should be written off. Adaptive reuse allows for change, while still being mindful of what already exists. Adaptive reuse protects the future, ensuring resources, including land, aren’t wasted or taken for granted.
  6. Intelligent Reconciliation. When done well, adaptive reuse is the bridge that connects past to present, history to future. Adaptive reuse projects can bring the best of modern-day technologies and innovations to beautiful, historic buildings in prime locations. This type of holistic approach ensures existing buildings and materials are honored without sacrificing today’s needs and styles. Intelligent reconciliation also happens when architectural firms work on behalf of clients to communicate plans with the community, getting the proper permissions and permits to move forward with the project.

Adaptive reuse isn’t always the best solution, but more and more often we believe it’s an option that should be seriously considered. A smart way to conserve materials, protect the environment, and preserve the past, adaptive reuse can be the solution you’re looking for, especially when you’re sold on a building’s location or charm.

 

Becoming an Interior Designer

Interior Designer
While our interior designers do make great material and color selections, they do much more than that.

We all have our stereotyped image of what interior designers do from design shows, design magazines, and social media. However, the reality is much different.

A common misconception is that interior designers only select interior finishes, but structural knowledge of the building is necessary (and required) for understanding how interior spaces can be manipulated. Interior Designers think about the way a space functions and design it accordingly. They take a building shell and create a safe, functional, aesthetically pleasing space specific to each owner, in coordination with the architects and engineers.

From fixtures and furniture, to materials and finishes, Interior Designers help spaces come alive. A wide range of product knowledge is required for interior designers to make the most informed and appropriate decisions during the selection process.

But how to do they learn these skills? Registered Interior Designers begin with an education—either a Bachelor’s or an Associate’s degree in Interior Design.

There are many reputable universities with great Interior Design programs, but it is important for future students to do their research and find the right fit for what they need.

The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) is an independent, non-profit accrediting organization for Interior Design programs in the United States and internationally. Not all Interior Design programs are CIDA-accredited—and this is a great way to help students compare programs. Some students will choose to enroll in a non-accredited program and still be just as successful; or some will start at one and move to the accredited program to finish. Every student has their own path, and there are a lot of options.

However, just because a college degree has been obtained, one is still not a registered interior designer.

Any professional with a degree in Interior Design looking to gain registration (not everyone chooses to pursue registration), must then begin gaining professional experience (3,520-5,280 hours, depending on the degree). This professional experience must be in the Interior Design field to qualify for sitting for the exam.

At different times throughout their education and professional experience, professionals must sit for all sections of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.

This exam is broken into three sections:

  • The Practicum Exam (PRAC) – 4 Hours
    • Codes and Standards
    • Building Systems & Integration
    • Programming & Site Analysis
    • Contract Documents
  • Fundamentals Exam (IDFX) – 3 Hours
    • Design Communication
    • Building Systems & Construction
    • Programming & Site Analysis
    • Construction Drawings & Specification
    • Human Behavior & the Design Environment
    • Furniture, Finishes, Equipment, & Lighting
    • Technical Drawing Conventions
  • Professional Exam (IDPX) – 4 Hours
    • Professional Practice
    • Building Systems and Integration
    • Contract Administration
    • Project Coordination
    • Contract Documents
    • Product and Material Coordination
    • Codes and Standards

Each section is taken, and passed or failed, individually. Once the individual passes all sections and has met all the other requirements, he/she can apply for registration with the State of Indiana. Once this final hurdle has been cleared, the celebration can commence, and one can officially call him/herself a Registered Interior Designer.

Continued Education Units (CEU) are also required, similar to what other professions must do to keep their registration updated. Once CEU’s are obtained, each Registered Interior Designer is responsible for tracking and meeting the credit requirements.

 

Also see what it takes to become an architect.

Vacant Big Box Store Finds New Life as a Preschool

Building Indiana

Features Anna Marie Burrell, Sarah Hempstead, Brandon Fox, and Shelbyville Central Schools

January 24, 2019

“In the small Indiana community of Shelbyville, Shelbyville Central Schools District will transform a nearly 63,000 square foot abandoned Marsh Food Store and the adjacent strip center – once housing other retail stores, a restaurant, movie rental store, and a bank – into a preschool, space for children with special needs, and the school district’s offices.”… read full article

Becoming an Architect

Becoming an Architect

 

A lot goes into becoming a licensed architect.

As many already know, hiring Schmidt Associates for a facility project is a “no brainer”. However, have you thought about the process your designers go through in order to be qualified to design your facilities?

Though we can stereotype and say that all architects loved building with Legos when they were children, that is not entirely true. And it certainly takes more than a keen awareness of plastic to become licensed within the profession. Architects are problem-solvers. They go beyond the placement of bricks and mortar to get to the deeper need of an Owner so they can solve existing problems and anticipate future needs. Architects are also responsible for helping protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

But how to do they learn these skills? A college degree from a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited program is the first step in the process of becoming a licensed architect in Indiana. There are three types of professional architectural degrees in the United States:

  • Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch), typically a 5-year-program
  • Master of Architecture (M. Arch), typically a 2-year program
  • Doctor of Architecture (D. Arch), varies

Alternatively, students can also pursue a 4+2 program. Using this method, students can get a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Architecture and follow up with a 2-year Master of Architecture.

However, just because a college degree has been attained, one is still not licensed.

Any professional looking to gain licensure (not everyone who graduates with an architectural degree chooses to pursue licensure), must then begin the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). This experiential process requires a minimum of 3,740 hours of hands-on training in Indiana (some states vary) where professionals are directed to complete 96 tasks across six practice areas:

  • Practice Management – 160 required hours
  • Project Management – 360 required hours
  • Programming and Analysis – 260 required hours
  • Project Planning and Design – 1,080 required hours
  • Project Development and Documentation – 1,520 required hours
  • Construction Evaluation – 360 required hours

At least half of this documented experience (1,860 hours) must be achieved under the supervision of a licensed architect while working for an architecture firm.

In addition to the education and experience, architectural professionals must also take and pass the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE)—a six-part, 21-hour exam to assess an architect’s skills and ability to protect the welfare of those they serve. Topics include:

  • Practice Management
  • Project Management
  • Programming & Analysis
  • Project Planning & Design
  • Project Development & Documentation
  • Construction & Evaluation

Each section is taken (and passed or failed) individually, and the order in which the exams are taken is up to the individual professional. Once they pass all sections and have met all the other requirements, he/she can apply for a license. After this final hurdle has been cleared, the celebration can commence and one can officially call him/herself an architect!

But training for an architect does not end there. In order to stay current with new technologies, construction methodologies, and current code requirements, architects must participate in continuing education courses. In Indiana, architects must obtain 24 learning units—16 of which must be focused on health, safety, and welfare (HSW) topics—every two years.

And here you thought your architect just did really well with Legos.

 

A Word from Our Owners – Marian University & The Children’s Museum

Audra Blasdel

Audra Blasdel graduated from DePauw University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Computer Science and received her Masters of Business Administration with a focus in global supply chain management from the University of Indianapolis in 2009. Prior to starting her own company–Blasdel Solutions, a WBE Certified Project Management and Business Analysis company–she served as Marian University’s Executive Director of Facilities, Construction, and Purchasing.

In her current role as Director of Facility and Campus Operations at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Audra is responsible for the day-to-day campus operations for maintenance, grounds, and custodial; strategic campus planning, and construction and renovations projects. She lives in Speedway, Indiana, with her husband and son.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Structures and systems will require maintenance and periodic repair and rehabilitation (R&R) at some point. By keeping campus buildings running smoothly and efficiently, we are able to prolong a building’s lifetime while saving on overall future costs for our Owners. These seemingly “small projects” have a large impact for Owners and the end users. While our designers and engineers are obviously well-equipped to do the large-scale projects, we also are ready to help our Owners through R&R projects. Let’s hear from Audra on her experiences throughout the years.

How did a comprehensive understanding of your facility conditions impact R&R expenditures?

In general terms, it allows us to better plan for our expenditures and gives us a broader understanding of our needs. At Marian University, we brought Schmidt Associates in to do facilities strategic planning and a larger campus master plan, all derived from a 2025 strategic plan. We then needed to build the campus master plan and a facilities strategic plan so that we could take large capital needs and compare it to daily facility needs. This results in a coordinated and well-thought out investment plan.

For example, this helped make sure we didn’t do large system replacement when we would be doing an addition to that building in a few years. It helped build a knowledge base in a centralized place rather than in various individuals’ heads. This work with Schmidt Associates helped us be smarter and more responsible.

What role has Schmidt Associates played in helping you maintain facilities at both Marian University and The Children’s Museum?

Schmidt Associates has provided a baseline assessment of facilities with an investment/expenditure plan as well as some Owner-friendly tools that allow us to manage the plan going forward. Those plans are developed in a way that allows us to manipulate and adjust the plan as we go through implementation, ensuring that the plan stays relevant and usable.  Plans are often developed in a stagnant manner, and they quickly become stale and end up on the shelf.  Steve Schaecher, an architect at Schmidt Associates, even drew a comic at some point to joke about the master plan ‘graveyard’.

masterplan graveyard

That’s been the biggest benefit to working with Schmidt Associates on these plans: keeping the plan workable, usable, and modifiable so it plan doesn’t end up in that graveyard. The focus in working with Schmidt Associates has always been how we make it an owner-friendly plan that maintains its life.

What type of R&R projects has Schmidt Associates worked with you for?

R&R strategic planning projects have included the Marian University Campus Master Plan and Facilities Strategic Plan. We’re currently working on a strategic investment plan for the parking garage structure at The Children’s Museum. Schmidt Associates has also provided scopes of work, estimate checks, and preliminary assessments on a variety of large scale R&R projects, such as boiler replacements, electrical upgrades, plumbing retrofits, and accessibility upgrades.

Describe the process of working with Schmidt Associates.

For me, a lot of it has revolved around our long-lasting relationship over the past 7 years. This has included large- and small-scale projects and strategic planning. This opens the door for candid communication, something that is harder to have when everyone is new to the table. The consistency of who I work with and the way we work has allowed us to learn from each other and have an end product I can use going forward, which is really important. When I get a PDF that I have to regenerate documents out of, it’s not appealing. Facility priorities change every day and having a working document, not a stagnant document, is important for me on a strategic planning and R&R side.

Indianapolis Architects Redesign Restaurant and Cosmetology Learning Center

School Construction News

Features Anna Marie Burrell & McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology

November 19, 2018

“Shortly after the visitors are seated in a comfortable banquette with modern art on the wall behind them, Devon, in a brilliant white and wrinkle-free chef’s jacket professionally greets them, “Good morning, welcome to Bernie’s Place! May I get you a water?”… read full article

Form, Function, and Funds: The Next Wave of Sustainability

When it comes to sustainable design, perhaps sustaining the attention of consumers is as important as the design itself. While sustainability may be written off as one of many “green trends”, it plays an enormous role in shaping how our future looks – both from the buildings we inhabit to the overall planet we live on. To ensure the concept of sustainable design stays at the forefront of the public’s attention, it needs to achieve a few important things – function, form, and funds.

And, of course, it needs to stay interesting.

If there’s one thing the public loves, it’s stories they can talk about and share with their friends, family, and followers. It’s a benefit to the sustainable movement, then, that so many forward-thinking brands and industries are finding ways to captivate and engage with their products and ideas.

Perhaps with some thanks to social media, sustainability in design has received a greater amount of publicity in recent years with eye-catching articles including: “Ecological Packaging for Fries Made from Potato Skins”, an “Initiative to Turn Space Waste into ‘Ingredients for Something Special’”, the O-Wind Turbine that “captures energy even in the middle of dense cities”, a “maternity facility in rural Uganda is entirely self-sustaining”… the list goes on and on.

What these headlines have in common, besides being tempting to click on, is the desire to improve the environment by connecting with real people in real-life situations. While the eco-packaging for french fries is a novel idea, the self-sustaining maternity building in Africa demonstrates how sustainable thinking can save lives – and right now, not decades from now.

Despite the environment’s warning signs, many people still don’t understand the need to act responsibly now. This lack of urgency can leave sustainable design in the realm of french fry containers – a cool thought, an example of what can be done, but no obligation to do anything right now. So, when stories like O-Wind Turbine and the maternity facility make headlines, the sustainable design movement becomes more tangible and grounded, which is exactly what’s needed for sustainability to keep its forward momentum.

Once attention has been captured, sustainable designers need to follow the three Fs to move from the realm of “someday” to “today”:

Form

Sustainable designs may take on more unique forms simply because of the unique goals and aspirations embedded into the design, whether it be recyclability, high mileage, general efficiency, solar orientation etc. This distinction is advantageous because the novel form can capture attention and thereby create conversation. The simple fact of being different provides a clue that perhaps there’s more than meets the eye. When the form of a sustainable design is unique, people begin to ask questions, and these questions in turn can lead to education. Education is the backbone of every movement if it indeed is to be taken seriously and withstand the test of time.

Function

In successful design, the function and form of any design must work in tandem, or there will be little hope in it ever enjoying the light of day. When form and function complement each other, they become a beacon for the entire sustainable design movement, showing the world how promising the latest innovations can be. Often in successful sustainable design, the function serves as a determiner for much of the object’s form. For example, within architecture, the orientation, shape, and angles of the overall building layout should work in conjunction with the sun’s daily patterns; the placement and proportion of the windows, as well as the depth of shading devices and screening elements, should capture sunlight from desirable directions while also limiting sunlight from other less-desirable directions. Additionally, the angle of the roof may be utilized to harvest rainwater for purposes both in and surrounding the building. Other sustainable measures include recycled finishes, lighting with automatic sensors, native landscaping, natural drainage, permeable pavers in parking lots, etc.

Funds

Once form and function have been accomplished and the public’s attention has been captured, funds are the last item to consider. For many, sustainable design is a nice idea, but they often assume the cost to complete a sustainable project is out of financial reach. A primary concept within sustainability is weighing the initial up-front costs versus the life-cycle costs. Some sustainable design measures may cost more at the project’s outset yet actually save money over the entire life of the building. Some examples within architecture include solar panels, efficient HVAC equipment, sensored lighting, rainwater collection/harvesting, etc. These features must be carefully examined in light of the project’s long-term goals. Making sure there is an affordability to every project, that there is realistic access to obtaining the necessary funds, and balancing the costs over the life of the building, are all essential.

For sustainable designers, understanding the importance of getting the public to embrace new ideas and projects is easy. But, convincing the public of the importance behind sustainability requires thought, planning, and adhering to the concept of the Three Fs of Sustainable Design: form, function, funds.

The Design Components Every High School Gymnasium Needs

Whether you’re redesigning or renovating a high school gymnasium, or building a new structure from scratch, there are a lot of things to consider. Most importantly, you need to remember that a high school gym is so much more than just a place for sporting events; it’s a place for communities to gather. From the school community to the larger neighboring community, a gymnasium needs to be able to adapt quickly, offering places that accommodate a wide-range of needs – both the expected and the unexpected.

Main Gymnasium

The main part of the gymnasium will be where the big events take place. From basketball and volleyball games to school assemblies and dances, this space needs to consider flooring, acoustics, and the overall “wow” factor. Many older gyms don’t have a big enough clearance around the perimeter of the main court, something that should be considered in the design. The perimeter of the main competition court needs to have enough room for the team seating, judges’ and scorers’ table referees and spectator passage, etc. Per the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) guidelines, the perimeter of a basketball court requires a minimum of 3 feet but preferably 10 feet.

Some other questions to ask when designing the main gym:

  • How will students feel when they walk into their gym?
  • How can this main gym attract coaches?
  • How will rival schools feel?
Seating

While bleachers are an affordable option, some schools are opting for more luxurious stadium-style seating, complete with sunken seats and armrests. Depending on the size of the school and the community’s overall need for a gymnasium, the amount of seating needed will vary. To determine how much seating you will need, the following questions must by answered:

  • Is the gym a PE gym or a competition gym?
  • What events will this gym be designed for?
  • Does the school want to host sectionals at this gym?
  • What is the attendance history of this school/gym?
Accessibility

Everywhere on your design plan needs to be easily accessible for everyone. To make sure you’re not overlooking anything, put yourself in the shoes of every person who enters the gym – from the student athletes to individuals in wheelchairs, to teachers, parents and elderly spectators. The flow of your design should make it easy to get from one place to the next, all the way from the entry to the seats and back to the locker rooms.

Locker Rooms

Locker rooms are an essential part of any high school gym design. The size will depend on the overall student body. At the very least, locker rooms need to include lockers, benches, bathrooms, showers and larger spaces for pre- and post-game meetings. Most locker rooms also have offices inside, which make sure there’s appropriate supervision for the students. There can also be smaller locker rooms included for the referees – a place for them to get ready and store their belongings safely.

Public Facilities

High school gymnasiums need to include public facilities for guests and spectators. Typically at the front of the gym or at least very easy to find, these public facilities, like restrooms, meeting spaces, a public lobby, ticketing, and concessions, make enjoying games and events at the gym easy and stress-free.

Offices

In addition to the smaller “supervision” offices built into the locker rooms, larger offices for head coaches and athletic directors should be included in the design of a high school gym. Often upstairs, the best offices have windows and plenty of room, which can help entice the best of the best coaches and staff to the school.

Training Facilities

Gyms should include training facilities for the students to use at practice and before and after school. These facilities often have weight training and cardio equipment, as well as places to stretch and do drills. Many high school gyms feature a smaller auxiliary gym that can be used by teams when the main gym is in use for a game or event or gym classes during school hours.

Lighting

Although fluorescent lighting is common, newer gyms are opting for LED lighting. Some high school gyms are being designed to combine natural light with LED lights to conserve energy and reduce overall costs. Using natural light can also create a beautiful effect, which is why we incorporate clerestory windows in our new gym designs. To minimize glare, we can use frosted glass or polycarbonate wall panels to provide natural light without glare.

Storage

Creating enough storage in a high school gym is necessary so that different events can happen easily. The more convenient this storage is to access, the more easily the gym will be able to adapt (and the more willing volunteers will be to help relocate equipment). The majority of new storage areas in gyms are designed with rolling or garage-like doors so that large equipment can move in and out easily.

Because gyms are such hubs, it’s important that every high school gymnasium design considers the needs of the school and the community. When done well, new gyms become a place of pride and somewhere everyone looks forward to going.

Want to learn more about our experience? Click the magazine below: