Ten years ago, Stu Henderson taught at the university level. He explained it was a wonderful environment he loved engaging in.
“It’s a magical place,” said Henderson. “There’s usually beautiful architecture. There are almost park-like settings. There’s the excitement of learning and the master-apprentice environment.”
Though he’s left teaching, Henderson has found himself now creating those magical environments as a partner and the director of design at the firm Fawley Bryant Architecture. He noted catering to the higher education and campus recreation industry is unique and one of his favorite segments to serve.
Henderson explained a campus is where the world of sports and education come together. “It’s not just about putting a new building down,” said Henderson. “It’s about considering and caring for the rest of campus.”
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That consideration includes everything from secure environments to smart circulation strategies and educational spaces. For example, Henderson shared on the current fieldhouse project going on at Westminster Christian School. “As we often do, we think about opportunities for the space when it’s not being used for sports,” he said. “So, they may be overflow classrooms, spaces for certain clubs at the school to meet or teacher conference areas.”
IMG Academy is another prime example of working toward the overall campus mission. Henderson shared they partnered with the entity in 2008, completing the 15-year campus plan in eight years. While sports drive the campus, Fawley Bryant found the balance between the athletic side and the number of classrooms for the facility’s academic component.
In fact, the firm has a lot to consider when stepping into a partnership, especially with campus recreation departments. Henderson noted they are highly aware of the plethora of challenges and constraints campus rec directors face when it comes to a renovation or new build.
Multiple Tools and Strategies
As such, Fawley Bryant’s partners are led through the process via multiple tools and strategies. “Our unique process of envisioning the future, illustrating what it can be and working in the 3D model with our partners who are able to see their changes occur in real time is important,” said Henderson. “Our tools and our processes are really valuable.”
Henderson shared because they envision things in 3D modeling, it can facilitate conversations with people who may not understand what the drawings mean. Plus, this modeling allows the team to put the campus recreation department in the space before it’s ever built. They can assess lighting conditions and visibility, security and accesses, and so much more. “The 3D modeling we do is really, really critical,” said Henderson.
At the New College of Florida, Henderson explained they were installing a tennis court, which is hard to imagine until it’s up. As such, Fawley Bryant helped paint the picture of the finished court complete with a windscreen and lights. Plus, Henderson said they discussed about having a classroom space around the court that could double as a suite during a sporting event. Or, is there even room for an announcer’s box? “Then we can engage the kids in creating a program for them to work on the graphics that might show up on the sports board or learning how to announce a game,” said Henderson. “So, how can the two moments sort of meet the educational and the athletic?”
Beyond their tools, questions are a big part of Fawley Bryant’s partnerships. Henderson shared they will pose inquiries to directors to help them consider both the here-and-now, as well as the 30-foot birds-eye view that spans into the future. “By proactively considering expansion and scalability during the planning phase, we can ensure recreational facilities can accommodate the evolving needs of your campus community for years to come,” he said.
Envisioning the Future
Fawley Bryant isn’t just building recreation or sports facilities — the firm is looking to grow campuses as a whole. “We understand you care for the space you work in,” said Henderson. “We are here to help you.”
From envisioning the future to helping entities create long-term plans, the firm is ready to use its unique tools and processes to have a positive impact on the industry.
In fact, one of its core values is “Achieve Creative and Technical Balance.” In every single project, that’s what Fawley Bryant strives for — creating spaces with a high degree of creativity while catering to the current and future demands on the facility.
“That’s really what we bring to campuses and directors,” said Henderson. “We are philosophical in our approach … There’s a mindfulness to the time on campus, whether you’re working or learning, meditating, or getting counseling.”
To achieve such a lofty goal truly does take a balance between the creative and the technical aspects of architecture and design, and Fawley Bryant does just that.
For more information, visit fawleybryant.com/.