While long COVID-19 shutdowns have caused many obstacles, they have also given facilities time to construct overdo renovations. If your facility is planning a renovation, Brian Rigby, the director of design for Gro Development, shared many renovation recommendations to ensure facilities get the most out of their money.
Rigby first recommended starting with “why” you are doing the project.
“Create the vision first and then design a building around that,” said Rigby. “What are you trying to achieve and what is the best way to accomplish your goals? Are you trying to create an Olympic training center for swimming or are you trying to teach kids to swim and be safe around water? Those project drivers will help you identify the needs for your project.”
When you are early in the planning and design process, this information is extremely valuable, and changes are easy to make. Rigby encouraged community centers to not be afraid to change their minds about plans.
Additionally, when planning a renovation or expansion, your facility should always consider what can be reused, what can be repurposed and what is the best and highest use of a space.
“It really doesn’t make a lot of sense to tear a gym down and then spend a couple million dollars rebuilding it on site in a different location,” explained Rigby. “We usually try to work around parts of the building that are still functional like pools, locker rooms and mechanical rooms. When you add new construction make sure it is visible and contains the most impactful rooms to appeal to the broadest audience.”
Rigby recommends adding new additions to the front of the building so everyone who enters can get the new, intended experience. The front door is key when renovating and careful thought should be put into what you see when you walk in the building.
“After a potential member knows where you are located and what your offerings are, they tend to make up their mind to join or not within the first 20 steps into the building,” said Rigby. “We design our facilities here at Gro from three vantage points: the view from the lobby and front desk, the view from the common’s connector spine and the view from the top of the stairs at the second level. Think about what venues are located around these areas and the views into them.”
The last piece of advice Rigby shared for facilities undergoing renovations is to always budget for the unknown. Renovations will typically end up being more expensive than you think they will, but Rigby said the good news is phasing is often easier with renovations and expansions.
“Put the money into any new spaces and think about investment on a cost per impact basis,” he said. “Everyone will walk through your front door, but not everyone will visit the bathrooms on the third floor. Invest in higher use spaces and as the facility gains membership, use the revenue to continue renovating spaces that maybe didn’t make it into the first phase of the project.”
If your facility is planning an upcoming remodel, implementing these renovation recommendations into your planning process will make the renovation go smoothly and help you better serve your members.