Reinvention for Recreation

Gable Stubbs, AIA, on the adaptive reuse of a vacant armory facility in Summerville, SC for a much needed community center.

When faced with the question of what to do with their centrally located, decommissioned National Guard Armory building, the Town of Summerville engaged SGA | NarmourWright Design to help guide them through the process of bringing this community resource back to life. Along with over twenty other new armories built across South Carolina between 1953 and 1972, the Summerville Armory featured a drill hall, an armory, a shooting range, offices, and training spaces. One particularly significant design element of the building is a bas-relief panel by sculptor Willard Newman Hirsch which depicts the history of the South Carolina Army National Guard. Recognizing the value and potential of this building, the Town saw an opportunity to repurpose the building, creating a much-needed, new community center.

SGA|NW worked with the Town to determine the best use for the building through a series of community input sessions. These sessions provided the Town with direct input from individuals and entities, reflecting the needs and priorities of the community. Through these “listening sessions,” the Town was able to define a vision and build a consensus for reinvention of the building.

The design team did a building assessment and analysis that documented the conditions of the site and the structure in order to determine the viability of this new vision. The analysis included the review of the existing building’s structure, systems, and envelope, as well a review of life safety issues. The resulting report provided a conceptual design approach for the renovation based on a program of uses identified during the input sessions. The report also outlined a solution for the project that took into account the key factors of cost effectiveness, location, the history of the building, and its intended use in order to achieve the Town’s vision within budget.

Choosing the Right Path

With the project program defined and the budget established, the Town was prepared to move for- ward with the renovation. SGA|NW worked with the Town to establish a Construction Manager @ Risk process in order to identify  a qualified contractor to work with the Town and the de- sign team to complete the project. Working together, the team finalized the project design, making decisions to provide for the best quality for the budget and schedule. With the final design, schedule, and price approved, construction began.

After several months of construction, the building’s trans- formation was complete — including structural upgrades, as well as new plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and life safety systems. Site improvements include the addition of a pavilion plaza for outdoor events, new parking and vehicular access, storm water systems, and new active and passive outdoor spaces. The resulting new Community Center features a variety of flexible interior and exterior spaces which accommodate a broad range of uses.

Things to Consider

Perhaps no project type creates as much excitement and expectations as does the planning for a new or renovated recreation/community center. Each project has specific goals that need to be considered and defined, so proper planning is essential to the success of these facilities. SGA|NW is uniquely qualified in planning, design, and construction administration to help you and your team find the best solution.

About Gable

Gable, a Principal with SGA|NW, has practiced architecture for over 30 years and has experience in the planning, design, and construction of public, institutional, education, corporate and commercial projects. He has worked on an extensive number of sports and fitness facilities including 11 YMCAs.

gstubbs@sganwdesign.com