Sometimes, design is overrated. Obviously, architects take design very seriously and fiercely believe that the look and feel of a club is hugely important in establishing an emotional connection between our members and our facility, but it is important to remember that good design is a balance between the look and feel of a club and the club’s functions. When too many resources are allocated to form rather than function, the result may be a great-looking club that really does not function well.
Overdesigning is common. Aesthetic design is fun and sexy and can easily capture the imagination. Sometimes designers get so excited about the creation that we simply do not allow time to review what is going to be needed under the hood. Other times it is the owners who get caught up in the fun of creating and owning a beautiful building. There have been more than a few times when I have had to pull the owner aside and tell him or her that as much as I would like to spend more money on that waterfall, we need that money for better lighting solutions instead.
When renovating a club or designing a new facility, breaking down and reviewing every detail of how a club functions is the key to a successful project. As one of my clients likes to say, “You have to design each area of the club, each piece, as if that’s the only place you are making money.”
Understanding mundane functions, such as the flow of clean and dirty towels in a club, can make a difference. I have seen too many clubs with a great lobby, but the experience is ruined by an open door leading to the loud and unsightly laundry room behind or near the front desk. The clear and systematic consideration of how the club will operate will ensure that you can operate an efficient club while still making a design statement that appeals to members.
Anyone that runs a club, no matter what the size, understands the complexities of the facility as a living machine. Work out practical matters early in the design process, such as how members and staff will move through the facility and what equipment or areas they will need to access.
Continue to consider practical matters throughout the design process, such as what programming you might offer in the future and how much space it will require. Think about how you can use natural light as both an aesthetic element and a way to save on energy costs, and determine what audio-visual elements you might need. To save time and effort, you also should think about invisible items you might require, such as sound transmission between spaces or special flooring underlayment to prolong the life and protect the structure of your great looking floor.
Storage, for instance, becomes a critical item only after the fact. No one wants to carve out space for storage needs during the design process, but everyone needs it after the facility is open.