A Field House With A View

The Waukegan Park District in Illinois wanted to go beyond space and programming requirements, beyond parking needs and storm water detention demands to include more subtle design mandates for its planned Field House at Hinkston Park.

The building had to be, in Executive Director Greg Petry’s words, “fresh, new and exciting, and reflect the renaissance Waukegan is going through.”

The building–designed by PHN Architects of Wheaton, Ill.–measures up to the mandate. Petry says, “PHN delivered on that. It’s really a visible building.”

To complement that sense of freshness and newness, district officials wanted plenty of light. They also sought to “include as many green elements as we could possibly afford,” Petry says, pointing out that green elements can be more expensive than traditional design or materials.

PHN Architects was able to include many energy-saving features into the $14 million field house, which opened in 2006. The 83,342-square-foot facility includes a six-court, open-span gym, an elevated walking/running track, climbing wall, a multi-level fitness center, locker rooms, aerobics room, child-care facilities, multi-purpose room, staff offices, concessions court and a branch of the Waukegan Public Library.

Solar Solutions

There is approximately 45,000 square feet of “cool roofing” over the facility. The building offers a light-colored membrane that reflects the sun’s heat and warmth, reducing cooling costs.

Another cost-saving feature is the extensive use of natural daylight throughout the facility, which reduces demand for artificial lighting. “The building is oriented on the site to permit a lot of natural light, not only in the gym but also in the fitness center, and at the climbing wall in the main entrance,” says Andy Dogan, a principal and project manager at PHN Architects. “Most people prefer natural light to artificial, so the extensive natural lighting in the field house also promotes a sense of well-being and connection with nature,” he says.

The daylight is particularly helpful in the six-court gymnasium, which includes skylights as well as an extensive number of windows on the south side. Even on overcast or cloudy days, the district can usually illuminate the gym with natural light only, Petry says. The gym’s windows are low-e glass (the “e” stands for “emissivity”) that uses an ultra-thin metallic coating on or in the glass to reflect heat back to its source. The windows help deflect the sun in the summer and coax the heat into the building in the winter.

Sensible Power Sources

A controllable, state-of-the-art programmed lighting system in the gymnasium permits on-the-fly adjustment of lighting levels, based on need and available daylight. The gym uses energy-efficient fluorescent fixtures instead of the more common metal halide/high-pressure sodium lighting. Dogan estimates the fixtures trim energy costs by as much as 50 percent compared to the traditional fixtures.

“Our lights come on instantly, and we can adjust the lighting to have on only what we need,” Petry says. For example, for a practice session, lights are probably on at half power. If the facility is hosting a championship game or tournament, officials use full power. In addition, the system permits many refined lighting controls. “We can light one court at full power and five at half-power, we can light just two courts if that’s all we’re using; we can do any combination. It’s really a nice energy-saving feature,” Petry says.

A digitally controlled heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system also reduces expenditures. “It’s fully programmable, and our people are constantly monitoring activity and temperatures to make sure we adjust temperatures as much as we can, depending on activity,” Petry says. The building’s fitness center and gym are kept at about 68 F, while offices and other spaces remain at approximately 70 F, he says. The system is very responsive. “Employees are able to have the HVAC system respond to the needs and usage of the building, as these needs change,” Dogan says.

Project Materials

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