This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
As mentioned last month, one of the highlights of the summer was our annual Facilities of Merit® judging. Seven architects from across the country gathered in Madison, Wis., for two days. The first day began with a cursory review of all submissions — 61, to be exact, for 2016. Judges were asked to circulate hardcopy binders, individually review each project and narrow down the field to about a third of its original size.
On day two, they took a closer look and graded each submission on various criteria (see page 38). Scores for each project were then added up, averaged and ranked. There are always clear pack leaders, but then there are many projects in close contention, separated by mere tenths or hundredths of a point. Long ago, someone decided mathematical differences should not be what separate a Facilities of Merit honoree from the rest. Maybe one architect was more familiar with the regional factors affecting the cost of a project, prompting his or her score to deviate from the group. Maybe he or she simply overlooked a key element of the site plan.
Hence, the all-important discussion portion of the judging. This is a chance for our judges to explain the merits of a particular project, champion those they believe are true winners and argue against those they feel their peers are giving too much accolade. From issues of climate-appropriateness to practicality of site layout, our panel of architects leaves no brick unturned.
From an editorial standpoint, it's an illuminating conversation and invaluable learning experience. This is our chance to catch a glimpse of our industry from the architects' point of view, to view projects and programs with a more critical eye, and understand just what physical and financial considerations factor into a successful facility.
It's not just the facility-related conversations in the afternoon judging that we soak up. Lunch and dinner afford the AB team an opportunity to converse more informally with the judges, as well, while sharing a taste of our terrific city. We learn what personal and professional projects they're excited about, not to mention their cocktail of choice and how they like their steak.
We'd like to again thank this year's panel of architects for their time, insight and expertise. Turn to page 38 to check out 10 facilities worth talking about.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Letter from the Editor: Conversations of merit"