St. Francis School reveals upgrades to athletics facilities

By Rachel Nix, Building Kentucky

St. Francis School cut the ribbon today on its newly upgraded onsite athletics facilities at the downtown Louisville campus. The school enlisted Louisville-based architecture firm Luckett & Farley for this phase of renovations to create an impactful multi-functional fitness and wellness area in the school’s existing basement to offer more athletic amenities for students including one of the largest indoor turf spaces of any Louisville-area high school.

Making the most of the existing space

The 108-year-old building, located at the corner of 3rd and Broadway in downtown Louisville, was originally a YMCA and now houses St. Francis School and 58 upper-floor apartments. Once used as storage, the upgraded wellness facilities eliminate clutter, celebrate existing architecture, and maximize the use of available space.

This basement renovation paves the way for a larger state-of-the-art gymnasium project that is in development and will begin construction soon. That final phase will feature regulation-sized high school basketball and volleyball courts, locker rooms, athletic offices and concessions.

What leaders are saying

“This renovation provides a vital connection between our past and what we hope to build in the future,” said St. Francis Head of School Alexandra Thurstone. “This underutilized and often forgotten space is now a shining example of how St. Francis School works to creates flexible and collaborative spaces for active and experiential learning.”

“This project activates and brings life to a previously underutilized space to serve the immediate athletic needs on St. Francis’ downtown urban campus,” said Luckett & Farley Higher Education Architect Mark Thomas. “This phase, and ultimately the new Gymnasium and Wellness Center, are important contributors to the future vibrancy of our neighborhood.”

A smart adaptive reuse

With limited opportunities to expand the building’s footprint, Luckett & Farley’s strategic implementation of the renovation minimized the need for new construction to best use the spaces available through organization and design planning.

Cleverly designed bicycle storage, offices, a weight room, and a 2,575-square-foot open space turf area that can be used for a wide range of athletic programs fill out the 7,000 square-foot subterranean space. The school’s varsity teams will utilize the converted spaces for practice and training, along with fitness classes during and after school and general recreation for all high school students.

Full use of existing windows allows for more natural light to stream into the basement rooms to boost student productivity and engagement.

Collaboration between Luckett & Farley’s architects and electrical, mechanical and structural engineers was critical to create open spaces while concealing necessary utility systems including plumbing, conduits, air ducts, electric and internet wires for the school and housing in the building. Utilities were designed to relocate and run through lowered ceilings in hallways to allow for added vertical space in offices and athletics areas.

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