The benefits of high-quality athletic spaces

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017

The importance of the quality of athletic spaces

According to many experts in this field, high-quality athletic spaces are crucial to the health and performance of athletes. This doesn’t change whether we are talking about artificial turf surface, natural grass surface or maybe a combination of the two.  The surface must be even and consistent and must meet the standards for safety.  If the spaces are inconsistent, like changes in surface hardness, divots, grade or other elements, it is very likely that the injury rate will be increased and those using these athletic spaces won’t be able to give their best.  A well-built high-quality athletic space with a consistent surface also provides equal opportunities to all players, regardless of their current position on the field.

Additionally, the hardness of the surface is especially important as numerous studies have shown that providing a safe surface that meets minimum standards can have a dramatic impact on preventing concussions.  Player’s safety should be a top priority whenever a space like this is designed and built. There are  recommended maximum and minimum limits for the hardness of the surface with different mechanisms for testing hardness on a field. Providing a quality space that meets these regulations is critical for providing safe play.  This is emphasized on surfaces that are used for high contact sports which can increase the risks of injuries.

The rapid advance of technology and the emergence of new techniques in the field of athletic construction have allowed Landscape Architects to offer many different solutions for athletic spaces.

The selection of athletic spaces is affected by a few different factors that people must take into consideration. Typically, we are talking about total hours of usage, preference of sports, available land and budget. Planning can be critical to successful use, construction, and management of quality spaces.  Understanding how much an athletic facility will be used is an important consideration during planning. Once a week? Two times a day? All the time?  Understanding the demands for the field will help in determining the type of surface that is needed.  Additionally, the type of athletic space that suits users, whether it is a single sport or serving multiple sports, can depend on the desired level of performance. Will this space be used by recreational players, semi-professionals or professional athletes? In the end, most decisions come down to available budgets and overall costs of the project.  While price can be the primary concern, careful planning and study can create the possibility to get high-quality athletic spaces at a reasonable price.

A few other important things related to high-quality athletic spaces

Designing an athletic field , in general, requires taking many different things into consideration. Site selection and conditions are one of the most important elements in this process. In the past, athletic spaces were usually built in low-lying places with poor-quality soil. Today, Landscape Architects know that high-quality athletic spaces need adequate siting, drainage and soil conditions. Additionally, when planning an area like this, it is very important to think about the surface, suitable utilities, accessibility and proximity of support facilities. Taking these things into account and finding adequate location and orientation/position on the site can protect the assets – the users and the facility. While we are talking about the design of high-quality athletic spaces we must mention water management. Every well-projected athletic space must have a good system that will allow proper management of stormwater and water consumption. Building a good drainage system and a proper irrigation system will make sure that this space is available all year round.

Without a doubt, high-quality athletic spaces are beneficial for every community and for professional sports teams. They must be designed and developed by experienced, knowledgeable and qualified Landscape Architects for the best results.

Birchwood Design Group is a studio of Landscape Architects who are committed to improving the built environment and enhancing human experience through design.  As part of our practice, we are continually focused on innovation in the design of athletic facilities as it relates to improving the experience of both players and spectators.  While we know that some of these ideas are already being developed and some are far-fetched, the continued development and search for innovation are ingrained in our practice.