Glen Lake Community Schools – Team Rooms, Gatehouse and Tennis Complex

  • area / size 5,000 sqft
  • Completed 2021
  • Mathison|Mathison Architects designed the Team Rooms, Gatehouse and Tennis Complex for Glen Lake Community Schools in Maple City, Michigan.

    Glen Lake Community Schools (GLCS) is located on 110 acres in northern Michigan, an area well-known for its natural beauty and pristine environment. A high percentage of students are involved in sports, with successful football and baseball programs, and growing programs in tennis, softball, and soccer. Because the existing site lacked competition tennis courts, students had to use courts in other districts – always as the “visitor” team. The softball and soccer fields were distant from the high school locker rooms, making them inconvenient for physical education, sports practices, and competitions.

    These factors resulted in a project scope comprised of three new components: home and visitor team locker room buildings for softball and soccer adjacent to the existing fields; a new 8-court tennis complex; and a gateway ticket / restroom building. A primary design goal was to create a common, practical aesthetic for all buildings that would visually unite them across an expanse of many acres. Sustainable design is an important core value of GLCS. As a result, high performance and sustainable design were clear priorities, as were the provisions to add solar arrays to roof areas in the future.

    The design process began with a study of site circulation for each building to understand natural entry and focal points for intuitive wayfinding, and to give direction to building orientation to maximize natural light, views, sheltered gathering spaces, and future solar arrays. Although the overall school property is large, the undulating topography and location of existing fields offered only small, irregular sites for optimal location and orientation for the buildings. The site planning also needed to accommodate new septic fields, stormwater retention, and connection to water and electric services, while retaining existing tree groves wherever possible.

    The buildings are positioned to maximize convenient site circulation and access to sports for athletes, families, and spectators, while also offering shelter and sun protection. The locker room buildings feature low-sloping, overlapping roofs, creating a large protected area for athletes and spectators. The gateway / ticket building frames an important visual entry to the football field. The entry plaza, with integrated bench seating, promotes gathering before and after each game. The use of natural light and materials provides a distinct aesthetic representative of northern Michigan. The intentional use of wood as structural and finish materials was key in achieving designs that are welcoming and visually connected with the surrounding forest. Wood ceilings, exterior paneling, integrated wood benches, and glulam beams work together in a simple palette to lift the design from “utilitarian” to a community asset. The structures are energy-efficient and low maintenance, yet warm, welcoming, convenient for students and the community, as well as barrier-free, setting an important precedent for the character and design of future buildings on site.

    Because these buildings so closely reflect the cultural and environmental goals of the Glen Lake community, these projects provide benefits across social, economic, and environmental lines, and are respected examples of the community for the future.

    Design: Mathison|Mathison Architects
    Contractor: The Christman Company
    Photography: Jason Keen