When Schoolcraft College evaluated new ways to bring value to their institution they focused on their old auxiliary gym. They knew a high-tech fitness center would add to their academic health & wellness curriculum plus they wanted to create a venue that would attract a diverse audience: faculty, students, and the community at large. It was also important that the building be environmentally friendly.
The IDS team worked closely with the College’s Facilities and Technology departments to design and build, in four short months, a vibrant state-of-the art facility that serves all—young and old. The 11,855-square-foot renovation was completed in January 2012 and includes a day-lighting control system, “smart” benches and a yellow brick road!
The Schoolcraft College Fitness Center is a project of contrasts. Exercise equipment today is technologically advanced, demanding more software, cabling and connections, while creating a sustainable environment demanding less energy consumption. The Fitness Center caters to college students and athletes, yet at any given time, seniors may be working-out in the same space. An important goal of the design team was to provide natural light in a previously windowless space, but adding more windows would naturally drive up energy use.
The engineering design process was key to creating the sustainable aesthetics. IDS engineers and designers first researched the technology trends in fitness equipment and then worked closely with Schoolcraft’s Video, Data Networking, and Technology departments. The comprehensive design upgrade of the Center features big screen TVs, a wireless network to engage in social fitness training and competition, and “smart” workout machines. The challenges of the project led to innovation. “The new cardio machines demanded not just a power outlet, but data and video connections as well,” said Mike Nowicki, IDS Principal-in-Charge. “To keep the space as open and functional as possible, our design team worked together to collaborate and create a continuous bench at the base of all of the machines. This hid all of the conduits, wiring and cables.” These benches were also functional for anyone working-out as a place to sit or lay their towels.
The College saw their Fitness Center as a prime opportunity to offer something different than the neighboring big-name gyms. Focused on that goal, the IDS team used directional design as a way to accommodate the simultaneous activity in the Fitness Center and also to make the space aesthetically pleasing. “We did not want to use a lot of walls as it would eliminate light flow,” lead project designer, Don Root explained. “So we used a concept like the Yellow Brick Road!” The entrance to the gym begins with a colorful path that directs traffic and activity. The ceiling starts at eight feet and then rises to 25 feet with unique lighting clusters and ceiling fans that form distinct activity areas. At any given time, school athletes may be training in one area while active Continuing Education classes share nearby space without disruption to each other.
Sustainability is now the hallmark of the Schoolcraft Fitness Center. To allow light to flow throughout the facility, walls became windows. The environmental concern was how to use less energy, not more. The solution was to use daylight sensors to control both the window shades and lighting. “In a very short time, we researched and found the best automated shade control system,” Nowicki said. “This system senses daylight and automatically controls the window shades and the lighting fixtures, maintaining a constant lighting level.” This automated system resulted in energy savings all around.
“The facility is truly a vision of energy and movement,” Root said. Today, membership has increased and the Schoolcraft Fitness Center website boasts…students, alumni and community members all mix here. Success!