Gymnasium and fitness/weight room to benefit high school athletic and physical education programs, feeder schools, youth and adult community programs
[Eldridge, IA] – For North Scott High School, lack of fitness and gym space was a real headache. Athletes and physical education classes crowded into a weight room. The converted band room had poor ventilation, harsh lighting, improper flooring, and dated equipment.
At the same time, teams struggled to secure gym time. Some Lancers would practice as late as 9 p.m., and there was the ongoing demand for gym time from feeder schools and local leagues.
North Scott needed more space . . . for its teams, for its physical education classes, and for community programs.
Thanks to the new standalone Lancer Athletic Building, weightlifters have a space designed for weightlifting, most Lancers end practices by 7:30, and the North Scott community has more space to play. The headaches are gone.
“It isn’t just the student athletes benefiting from these safer and more spacious environments,” said Joe Stutting, superintendent of North Scott Community Schools. “There are more opportunities for all North Scott High School students and staff, as well as for students from feeder schools and adults of all ages.”
The 25,000-square-foot facility, designed by Legat Architects and built by Russell Construction, features a much larger fitness/weight zone with new equipment, and two new multipurpose basketball courts. The gym hosts everything from basketball and volleyball practice to youth programs and the increasingly popular Wednesday night adult pickleball tourneys.
Fitness/Weight Zone: Ventilation, Views, Flexibility
The 10,000-square-foot fitness/weight zone, nearly three times larger than the old one, has LED lighting and rubber floors. Two long rows of racks give instructors good views of the whole space, unlike the haphazard arrangement in the old weight room. Additionally, an energy-efficient mechanical system creates much better air movement.
Students do calisthenics in an area with artificial turf and a medicine ball wall. The turf area has a sectional door that opens to the gym. This allows students to sprint from the weight room’s far north end (identified by red flooring) into the turf zone and then into the gym.
All North Scott students will use the fitness/weight zone—weightlifting is a requirement for freshmen.
Joe Stutting introduces another beneficiary: “Before, it was hard for staff to get into the weight room because it was always so busy. Now we have the space and availability to promote staff wellness.”
The new fitness/weight zone also has an indirect academic benefit: the old weight room will returns to its musical origins . . . as an orchestra room.
Gymnasium: A Multiuse Community Resource
The Lancer Athletic Building’s 14,000-square-foot multipurpose gym has two full-size high school regulation basketball courts with a divider curtain. Each court has two main hoops on the ends and four side hoops. The gymnasium space transforms into three full-size volleyball courts or eight pickleball courts. An extra ten feet on each side of the courts offers more room for small tournaments or for spectators.
The new gymnasium not only accommodates many different users, but also helps free up North Scott’s main competition gym.
“Wow” Impact without the “Wow” Budget
Though its number one goal was usable space on a tight budget, North Scott Community Schools still wanted an attractive facility.
Stutting said, “We didn’t want people to see the Fitness Center and say, ‘Look at the barn they built.’”
The North Scott-Legat-Russell team toured a nearby factory to explore the possibility of building a steel building with insulated metal panels. It turned out to be a decisive visit: designing the Lancer Athletic Building as a steel structure helped the district achieve the space it needed while keeping within the budget.
Designers went beyond the typical steel box and instead created a multi-level design, complete with a “Lancer red” roof. According to Stutting, many of those who experience the facility, whether they’re admiring its façade or its high-quality floors, say it has the feel of a college facility.
The team even saved the district an extra $30,000 to $50,000. Just before contractors were scheduled to lay the gym floor on the concrete slab, readings revealed the concrete moisture content was too high. One popular option was an expensive adhesive that reduces moisture content. Instead, the team advised the district to wait it out—the schedule allowed the extra time. A week later, moisture levels were down, and the team proceeded with no additional costs.
“We had a great team with Legat Architects and the construction manager Russell working with coaches, staff, the athletic director, and many others to identify our needs,” said Stutting. “We got the wow impact without the wow budget.”
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