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Cyndi and Kenneth Long Family Football Operations Center Columbia, SC

Project Category : College/University

Total Construction Cost : $42,526,198

Total Gross Square Feet : 110,000 SF

Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $386

How was the facility funded? : Athletic department funds

Project Description:

Described by the team head coach as a game changer, the 110,000sf Long Family Football Operations Center for the University of South Carolina consolidates previously scattered team functions into a cohesive workman's place supporting all aspects of the football program.

The existing team spaces were distributed among several buildings on either side of a heavily trafficked road. To improve efficiency and safety, the new design incorporates resources for recruiting, training, recovery, and instruction under one roof. For a student athlete, every minute counts; sequences and adjacencies of key program spaces create intuitive, efficient routes to maximize the quality of the time spent in the building. The elimination of obstacles like transportation and travel time have created more hours in the day for activities such as training, recovery, and instruction, all of which have a direct impact on the teams success.

With the new operations center, practices are not only more efficient but also safer for the student-athletes, who now have direct access to treatment and rehabilitation areas from the practice fields and weight room. The building has also elevated the teams recruiting ability by delivering a powerful first impression and introduction to the program. Paths are tailored to provide unique experiences to individual user groups including student-athletes, coaches and recruits. The first-floor houses active team spaces such as a weight room, training room, equipment room and locker room, while team meeting spaces and offices comprise the second floor.

Clean, contemporary interiors provide a cohesive expression of team branding and culture. From the walls and ceilings to custom casework and lighting, a motif of strong angles defines the space and reflects an aggressive athletic program. A restrained finish palette allows the dynamic nature of the architecture to stand out and gives greater impact to graphic and experiential elements. Generous expanses of glass enhance perimeter spaces, with areas along the east--including a nutrition bar, team dining room and staff offices--enhanced by sweeping views of the tailgating park and stadium beyond. Along the west side, assistant coach offices, player lounge, training room and weight room enjoy views of the practice field.

The 20,000 SF weight room, the ultimate workhorse space within the facility, is a two story volume with exposed steel trusses, columns and a faceted cardio balcony spanning overhead. The angular Gamecock spur motif appears in floor demarcations as well as in the custom weight racks designed for the project in collaboration with a locally-based weight equipment supplier.

The lantern-like front lobby houses trophy cases, interactive displays, and a 27-foot-tall video wall, allowing the public to relive and celebrate the teams successes while they also explore the teams rich history and tradition. Experiential design elements, from large format graphics to specialty signage, are incorporated throughout the facility to inspire all who pass through the building.

The building forms a complex with the existing indoor practice facility and outdoor practice field. The public enters the building through the main lobby, located on axis with the football stadium across a recently upgraded tailgating park, while student athletes and coaches access the building through a separate designated entry point near the facilitys main parking area. The selected site required reclaiming a former landfill. Embracing this challenge was critical to creating key programmatic connections to the existing indoor practice facility and outdoor practice fields. Over 600 precast concrete piles were driven through layers of organic material to create the buildings foundation, and a methane barrier system was required to mitigate potential vapors released by waste below the surface.

The buildings exterior massing and materials take cues from the adjacent indoor practice facility while still giving the operations center a unique identity. Changes in plane between glass and masonry give depth to the elevations and create exterior balconies that offer views towards the stadium to the east and down onto the practice fields at the west. A 28-foot tall team logo is highlighted within the lantern of the lobby and is visible from the adjacent tailgating area and stadium.

The project budget was managed from the first kick-off meeting, impacting decisions and priorities throughout the design. The state budget funding process would not easily allow for the budget to be expanded. Lifecycle energy analysis performed during design informed the building envelope, including glazing amounts and types as well as the need for shading elements. Material selection was influenced by maintainability and durability. Elements throughout the building were designed to accommodate the size of Division 1 football players. The design of graphical elements and features incorporated methods that allow for easy change and updates over time.

The building was awarded two Green Globes for its attention to energy efficiency and sustainability. Beginning with a high-performance building envelope containing ample insulation and low-e glass, reduced energy demand is combined with state-of-the-art building systems to improve energy efficiency. Low-flow plumbing fixtures and irrigation are used to reduce potable water consumption. While a combination of regional and recycled materials make up the building shell, the interiors are designed with attention given to occupant health and convenience, including provision for abundant sunlight and views, control of dust and particulates, ease of cleaning, and access to recycling.

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