As a principal with SFS Architecture, Newman is seeing communities move quickly to facilitate and address needs beyond the scope of traditional public safety, roads and infrastructure. They are being asked to play a key role in the development of a wide range of fitness education as well as recreational and social programs for citizens.
Driving the demand is a higher level of expectations from individuals and families who want to see communities create wellness and recreation programs along with providing indoor and outdoor facilities where these programs can occur. Improved walkability in trails, safe biking, more open green space and usable park land are all on the agenda.
Newman said his firm is being asked to help transform many underutilized spaces so they can be made available for community recreation, parks, aquatics and wellness facilities. As architects and planners, SFS Architecture is in a unique position to shape communities as places for healthy living.
A major factor behind the trend is increased awareness about the benefits of healthy lifestyles. Rapidly increasing health care costs have made healthy living as a preventative measure a priority. Newman also pointed to the growing senior segment. They are staying active and healthy much longer than previous generations.
Also on the rise is sports. Leagues from youth and adult to instructional, recreational and highly competitive are driving the need for more sports fields and court facilities.
Another trend is large open field house facilities that meet a wide range of sports needs in flexible and creative ways such as indoor turf areas and various types of indoor court surfaces that can be configured in many different ways to play basketball, volleyball, tennis and soccer.
A favorite with active aging adults is pickleball. Using a paddle and plastic ball, it’s a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and is played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net with a paddle and a plastic ball.
A plethora of evidence supports Newman’s assertion that communities experience significant economic development advantages when offering programs and facilities that meet these healthy lifestyle needs. They become places where businesses and residents want to be. That’s why we are seeing more partnerships between communities and healthcare providers and between governmental agencies and communities.
Instead of duplicating services that are already being provided by perhaps private providers, communities are being smart about how to best leverage their limited resources by piggybacking on existing assets. This is powering the transformation of traditional community centers into destinations that provide a much wider range of activities such as social gathering spaces and demo kitchens to teach healthy cooking and eating.
Be ready to see major changes to aquatic facilities that economically meet both entertainment and specific programming needs such as learning to swim, water aerobics and lap swimming which will play a role in rehabilitation and therapy. The movement toward adventure play with climbing walls, rocks walls, zip lines and cliff jumps is in full swing as well.
To listen: SFS Helps Communities Promote Healthy Lifestyles
Andrew Ellenberg, KMBZ Move Series | August 13, 2016