AVENTHEALTH FIELDHOUSE & CONFERENCE CENTER
WINTER HAVEN – CHAIN OF LAKES PARK
This project was considered the “Phase 1” of the Chain of Lakes Park Master Plan (adopted in May of 2017) which outlined a comprehensive redesign and long-term redevelopment of this 69+ acre site owned by the City of Winter Haven. In December of 2017, the City engaged a team of consultants lead by Straughn Trout Architects to begin the renovation of the landmark (Southwest Recreation) Complex facility and design its iconic expansion now known as the AdventHealth Fieldhouse and Conference Center (AHFCC). With a prime location along U.S. Route 17 and Cypress Gardens Boulevard, it distinguishes a primary gateway to the City and now operates as a major regional destination and catalyst for continued public and private development.
The new AHFCC design is centered around a new 58,400 square foot multi-use gymnasium space with second-floor observation area to suitable for large sports competitions (basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, cheerleading, etc.) and other similar convention related regional events, gatherings and banquets. Facility attributes to support these functions include smaller team meeting rooms and classrooms for coaches, officials & event organizers, training and locker rooms, laundry, and storage spaces. A double-height entry concourse space provides a central information and control desk as well as connections to a concessions window, a new public fitness/exercise area, new recreational offices, shared restroom facilities, and renovated portions of the existing Complex facility. Additionally, a new vehicle drop-off drive on the west side serves as a complimentary new entry to a new two-story stair and elevator lobby and box office space. This area greatly improved accessibility to upper levels, including a new connection corridor to the theater lobby in the existing Complex building.
This project has earned four prestigious awards, including Project of the Year (Florida Engineering Society, Ridge Chapter), the Plan-It Award (American Planning Association, Heart of Florida Chapter), the 2020 People’s Choice Award (AIA Tampa Bay), and a 2021 Merit Award (AIA Tampa Bay).
As part of the development agreement, a financial partnership was established with Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing (a.k.a. “Visit Central Florida”). This partnership facilitated an agreement with the Lakeland Magic organization to utilize the facility as their team’s basketball training center/practice facility. The building includes dedicated office space for the Magic and design flexibility for maximum shared-use of locker, training, and classroom with the City.
The existing Complex building received strategic upgrades associated with the new AHFCC development. The existing small gymnasium space and adjacent recreational offices were modified to provide an alternative back-of-house access for the theater and also created an expanded set construction area and space for a future black box theater. Additionally, a new lifeguard space was carved out for the existing outdoor pools. After a thorough review of the existing Complex building’s antiquated mechanical and electrical systems and detailed life-cycle cost analysis, the renovations to the existing building also included LED lighting upgrades and a complete HVAC re-design for improved temperature control, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. The new system utilizes geothermal heat pump technology to not only heat and cool the entire facility (existing and new areas), but also heat and cool the existing Olympic-size lap pool and diving well.