Most facilities are designed to reflect — if not directly interact with — their natural surroundings.
Some elevate the link between exterior and interior to an abstract art form, while at the same time addressing a very real functional need. In the early design stages of the Hamel Recreation Center addition at the University of New Hampshire, a challenge arose as to how to maintain a safe but open separation between the lobby, its main stair and an adjacent large multi-activity gymnasium. Several options were developed — from laminated glass panels to a perforated metal screen. The "Forest Wall" option was ultimately selected as the design that best echoed the forest located beyond the project's footprint. The mirage-like forest pattern is made possible using a steel frame clad in plywood with a tongue-and-groove wood plank finish. A perforated metal infill was installed at the lower portion of the wall to maintain transparency while preventing loose balls from entering the lobby. "The Forest Wall provides a unique feature and identity to the recreation center," says Eliel Alfon, a principal at Hughes Group Architects. "It is visible from every vantage point of the facility, reinforcing the university's environmental context and commitment as a vivid part of the recreation experience."
This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Athletic Business with the title "‘Forest Wall’ Links to Site Exterior, Serves Interior Function." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.