Submitted by Dacon Corporation
Propelled by technology, activism, and cultural changes, sports facility design today is a composite of social and economic motivators integrating teamwork, achievement, and self-discipline with business profitability.
The new Boston Sports Institute (BSI) is based upon a sports ecosystem business model that hybridizes community purpose with customer-centric marketing. Within this public-private partnership model, a private business acts as long-term lessee that constructs, manages and owns the 130,000sf building, while the town of Wellesley retains land ownership, priority scheduling and dedicated hours for local groups, private elementary and collegiate teams.
Uniquely positioned as a professional grade facility, BSI encompasses sports and related commercial businesses in a communal environment. Incorporated within this facility are two NHL hockey rinks, a suspended track, an indoor turf field, therapy pool and competitive repurposed pool from the 2012 Olympic trials.
Alongside these sports areas are related services spanning sports medicine, tutoring and quick dining. Members train like the professionals. A unique attribute is that this pool is where Ryan Lochte qualified for the Summer Olympics by finishing first in the 200-meter backstroke and 400-meter individual medley.
Within mixed-use sports facilities, maintaining multiple environments that require high amounts of energy, varying temperatures and humidity-controlled areas is central to design strategy. “In assessing conditions during the design process, our focus was on the extreme variations in environmental conditions that surround the rinks, pools, turf fields and public areas. This climate differentiation necessitated focused consideration on interaction and energy use,” states Jen Luoni, Dacon’s operations director.
Despite the high amounts of energy use, Dacon saw an opportunity to reduce operational costs by reclaiming thermal energy extracted from rink cooling to warm the pool water. Additionally, LED lighting, high efficiency water heaters for domestic and resurfacing use, and a state-of-the-art ammonia refrigeration system contribute to overall energy efficiency. The resulting program changes Energy Use Intensity (EUI) from baseline 192.1 kBtu/ft2 to 169.2 kBtu/ft2, representing a 12% reduction in natural gas and electricity use.
Additionally, the 100,000sf roof and electrical infrastructure is prepared for a 900kW photovoltaic array that will contribute to the town’s environmental goal of reducing electrical grid demand and carbon emissions.
Overall design and material selections were likewise enacted based upon managing demands from multiple environments. “Materials selection is a crucial decision in a large-scale facility with high occupancy. Metl-Span panels were our first choice as a materials partner as they provided a comprehensive solution for the client’s functional and aesthetic requirements by acting as weather enclosure, insulation, air and vapor barrier within a single product. They were a value added asset to the process,” explains Luoni.
Within warm and cold areas condensation risk posed an extra level of complexity. To contain the high interior relative humidity levels of the pools (60%) and ice rinks (48%), thermal insulation, window insulation and vapor barriers were installed.
Within pools, sunlight and chloramine gas are critical comfort and safety factors. To limit direct sunlight interaction and glare, solar geometry was calculated with windows positioned high on the facility’s north side. Another challenge existed in chloramine gas, a corrosive byproduct of pool disinfectants. Vents were positioned at the base of deck benches to collect gas from the water’s surface, thereby exhausting it through vertical ducts exiting the roof. To guard against corrosion all exposed metal parts are stainless steel with wall and ceiling surfaces finished with epoxy.
Alongside environmental, financial, health and safety, consideration was given to human diversity. A movable bulkhead, chair lift and drop-in stair expands functions of the competition pool to water polo, competitive diving, youth, recreational and adaptive swim. Explains Luoni, “The definition of community today is different than five years ago. There is a need for increased parental observation and accessibility goes beyond age and capability to gender fluidity. Facilities today exercise greater sensitivity to these cultural trends.”
Transparency is a central design element, with large viewing windows between sports areas. Elevators and accessible walkways ensure open access throughout the facility. Alongside traditional locker rooms, a family locker room is available with private, gender neutral changing spaces. On the second level, suspended above the soccer/lacrosse turf field, is a two-lane track for jogging and rehabilitative walking. This is a true community center that welcomes all ages and abilities.