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The Evolution of Gym Design: Retractable Wide Deck Platforms

June 4, 2020 jill Blog
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By Matt LaLonde

As the role of school and church gymnasiums continues to evolve, institutions must consider several factors when planning and designing a facility to make it dynamic and adaptable to meet ever-changing needs.

From serving the church and school population to the local neighborhood community, it is imperative for gymnasiums to be designed such that they accommodate both large and small groups in multiple configurations.

Taking these elements into consideration, wide deck platforms with upgraded seating options are being utilized more often in worship facilities and educational institutions, offering a variety of solutions to satisfy the new wave of spectators, sports, and other events.

With the role of these gymnasiums ever-evolving, architects and owners need to consider a variety of factors when constructing a new recreation facility to make it dynamic and adaptable to meet today’s needs.

Whether a facility has been designed to serve a school community or the larger neighboring area, it is imperative for gymnasium designers to present flexible solutions to the growing and changing needs of such facilities.

Increased demand for gym time has added pressure to facility managers and staff to have the ability to changeover quickly.

As education, athletics, and church communities continue to evolve, now more than ever, there is a need for these facilities to evolve, as well. An easy solution to the demanding pace is retractable wide deck platforms.

What are wide deck platforms?

As the name suggests, wide deck is used to refer to a wider version of the traditional tiered rows of benches found in gymnasiums nationwide.

Unlike these traditional bleachers with row spacing anywhere between 22’’ and 26’’, wide deck platforms have a minimum row spacing of 30’’ and are available in 30”, 32”, and 33” spans.

What can this mean for patrons?

Upgraded seating with a variety of options including backrests, armrests, and cup holders. Beyond increased comfort, spectators now would have much more clearance.

The additional room is beneficial in multiple ways. First, deeper clearance for walking surfaces can mean lesser vertical aisle requirements. This can help add to the total capacity.

Second, it is much easier and quicker for patrons to get to and from their seat, creating a safer environment.

For decades, church and school gymnasiums have played a large role in creating community comradery housing such events as assemblies, ceremonies, meetings, and concerts.

To support the dynamic needs of the facility, wide deck platforms are offered with retractable operation—this power-operated system allows you to set up and dismantle within a few minutes.

With retractable seating, gymnasiums can quickly store their seating in a tight envelope at a wall, or with mobile units, elsewhere in the building. This allows for multi-purpose use of a space in a way that isn’t possible with fixed stationary seating.

With the ever evolving need to accommodate different set ups, retractable wide deck platforms allow owners the ultimate flexibility.

In addition to supporting a wide variety of communal and sporting events, wide deck platforms also offer a solution to frequent budgeting and funding issues that are commonly faced by churches and schools.

If the opportunity to renovate an entire gymnasium does not present itself, churches and schools have the option of installing “VIP seats” on wide deck platforms that may then be sold at a premium price to raise money for athletic programs/ministries or for their own facility renovations. The comfort associated with wide deck platforms is attractive enough for spectators to pay a premium price for their seating.

Wide deck platforms pay homage to the traditional tiered rows of benches found in gymnasiums around the country while offering an upgraded flexibility, which allows for better use of the space.

A graduate of Western Michigan University, Vice President of Sales & Marketing Matt LaLonde is in his 28th year at Interkal. His history there includes manufacturing, production control, product development, and sales and marketing. Constructed of heavy gauge steel and engineered to withstand the most stringent seismic activity, Interkal wide deck platforms are code compliant in all 50 states and built to last,