Ask an Expert: Bryan Dunkelberger on Club Design
What trends in club design should operators be paying attention to?
BD: Space for small group training and functional training. This aspect of training has been one of the most requested areas we have seen in a while. Members want more of it, and more opportunities to use it.
What tips can you share for designing a great locker room?
BD: Locker room flow is probably the most important aspect to consider. Having a clean and clear circulation path allows members to move through the locker room easily, while providing staff the opportunity to quickly see the whole locker room while on the circulation path. This helps with passive security. Keeping the dry areas in the front of your locker room with the wet areas deeper in, also helps with water migration.
What common mistakes do you see clubs making with design or layout?
BD: Circulation and flow. When circulation starts to look more and more like a maze, it makes clubs feel smaller and more confusing. This typically occurs because clubs do multiple renovations over time and keep rooms or certain spaces in order to save money, versus looking ahead.
How can clubs design for the future?
BD: Programming is changing at light speed. The architecture doesn’t seem to move quite as fast. So planning for spaces that can convert by changing equipment or being able to be opened up become very valuable as you look to the future. You just need to be thoughtful not to back yourself into a situation where, “this space can only do one thing, now and forever.”
Technology is the other piece to consider, but be careful — we seem to be approaching the computer scenario, in that by the time you get it home and out of the box, it’s obsolete. You need to be very cognizant of how long what your planning for will be relevant.
How can clubs go about picking a great design partner?
BD: I think “partner” is the key word. Look for a design team that truly wants to help you with your vision. Keep in mind though, that you want them to have experience with clubs. It’s easier to push the envelope with a firm that understands club design. For one, they know the general rules and what happens when you bend them. In addition, if something is being proposed that is out of the ordinary, they should be able to go through pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. Lastly, working with a designer is like a marriage. Both owner and designer are coming together to create something. There will be gives and takes, but in the end it really helps if you like each other and respect what each brings to the table.