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What is a Sports Architect?

6.10.2021

Quite simply, a Sports Architect is an architect specialised in sports facilities and related structures. Buildings from arenas to community centres and playgrounds to training venues all fall within their scope of expertise. Often the stewards of Third Place Thinking™, Sports Architects like Dion Gosling are committed to providing neutral and inclusive places for social gatherings and community togetherness.

What you may not realise is many good Sports Architects have a personal connection to the work they do. A lifelong involvement in sports sometimes leads individual architects down this particular path. After all, who knows the ins and outs and subtleties of our sports facilities more than experienced athletes? A Sports Architect combines professional expertise with personal fervour for the best of both worlds and a love of Third Place.

How do Sports Architects differ?

An Architect is a licensed professional driven by technical skill, practical understanding, analytical ability plus creative flair. They collaborate with clients and community members to help transform environments for the better.

As dedicated designers for sport, recreation and leisure, a Sports Architect is a specialist at heart. They explore, interpret, guide, support, and lend technical expertise to architectural projects for sports and community outlets.

For 106 Architects’ Founder Dion Gosling, his elite high-performance hockey career and grassroots community involvement granted him worldwide access to sporting facilities. These experiences inform his architecture to consciously connect sports and community.

Sports Architects recognise how expertly designed sporting facilities can enrich the entire community, especially the lives of our youth. With that in mind, they focus on projects that have the power to connect communities via the universal language of recreation activities. They overlay and imbue intimacy, scale, volume, texture, history and tradition while considering client and users’ unique cultural values.

Why hire a Sports Architect over a normal Architect?

Unlike a typical architect, Sports Architects have devoted much of their careers to sport and leisure. Their portfolio of related projects highlights successful examples of sports venues and spatial solutions in 3D. Some may choose to subspecialise in particular building types or sporting events depending on personal preference.

You may also find that many architects specialise in one area or another to set themselves apart. Just like any other industry, someone with years of skilful experience is perfectly positioned to deliver. A generalist may meet qualifications, though the level of nuance and subtle understanding doesn’t compare. If the devil is in the details, hiring a specialist is your ticket to success. 

What kind of services does a Sports Architect provide?

A Sports Architect provides all manner of sports-related services. They avail themselves to communities, groups and individual clients for sports and spatial counsel. For example, a Sports Architect may meet with community members to conceptualise the transformation of a sports park through a Masterplan. Understanding a space’s current uses and limitations from the users themselves helps steer sustainable future design.

Beyond individual considerations, a Sports Architect is often tasked with meeting the needs of various stakeholders. For example, a large sports stadium may need to accommodate athletes, coaches and spectators while heeding community concerns. Their role is to honour the perspectives of various voices when developing a Third Place and collective venue.

As is often true of public spaces, local government also has a say. Sports Architects work in tandem with city council members, university staff and other authority figures. These facilities must adhere to local and national regulations and meet all planning requirements. Beyond this, detailed design and documentation along with project management are skills in the long list of service offerings.

What does a Sports Architect do?

Fundamentally, a Sports Architect fulfils all the responsibilities of a traditional Architect for sports-related and community projects. They conceptualise a building or facility from early sketches to final blueprints and oversees project completion. Everything from building materials to budgetary considerations is added to a Sports Architect’s list of responsibilities. As with all architectural projects, the specific nature and duration of tasks vary by project.

A Sports Architect is also responsible for understanding the needs and options of their client and end-users. Many sports-related buildings are designed as public and/or community spaces with various activities and people in mind. Some facilities may serve as leisure centres for families and the general public, while others target specific professional leagues. No matter the project, a Sports Architect outlines purpose and priority when creating Third Places.

As mediators themselves, Sports Architects balance the needs of various stakeholders for any given project. A company may contract a Sports Architect to build an arena, which, in turn, will be used by local sports teams. Parents, team members and local government officials offer unique perspectives, and a Sports Architect creates a mutually beneficial design. These creative professionals combine form, function and finesse for the greater good. 

Who would be the main customers/clients of a Sports Architect? 

Sports Architects serve many populations, though their projects involve community interests. For example, a Sports Architect may partner with a university or school to build a facility for its student body. In that case, the client itself would be an institution and their community, a smaller segment of that group.

In other instances, Sports Architects may serve the needs of local government interested in building or renovating a community space. A local parks department may wish to add a building for leisure or recreational use to its property with the general public in mind. It might also create a community space meant for a particular sport or population whose needs would shape the building design.

At what point in the process would we get a Sports Architect involved?

In many ways, Sports Architects are like any other Architectthey’re involved in a project from the very beginning. A Sports Architect can work with Recreational Planners and other strategic thinkers to prepare an early needs analysis or feasibility for a project. There are sites to assess, people and groups to get to know, uses and collective visions to understand long before construction begins. A Sports Architect stays with you from project conception to completion.

Remember that Sports Architects are there to help, so you need not know everything before getting started. Consultations are often helpful for clients who wish to explore project feasibility at an early stage. As with any other project, architectural planning starts early.

Contact your Sports Architect – Dion at 106 Architects + Third Place Thinking™ – as early as possible to maximise your options.

 

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