Grace Multiplex Master Plan - Belle Glade, FL
Located at the southern end of Lake Okeechobee are two towns that are well known to College football coaches and recruiters. Belle Glade and Pahokee have been contributing athletes to college football programs and the NFL for over 25 years, as well as developing one of the fiercest high school rivalries in the country. Both towns, however, are products of an industrial era that has moved on. Situated in the heart of Florida’s sugarcane country, the two towns have seen a steady decline in industry, lifestyle and dreams with the automation of sugar cane harvesting over 30 years ago. Due to these factors, the youth of the towns have embraced football as their vehicle for success. With the odds stacked against them, they have managed to put more players in the NFL than any other area of the country. Still, many don’t make it, leaving the young men to return to “the Glades” without the needed life skills to succeed in other areas of life.
Rev. Kenny Berry, of Kenny Berry Ministries, is one of those who did make it, and is trying to give back to these communities. He has created a vision for GRACE Multiplex, that will train the youth of the area in academics, spirituality and athletics, thus preparing them for life after athletics.
S3 was asked to develop a funding and feasibility package that outlined the architectural vision for such a facility. Recognizing the unique bond that the community has to football, and the intense heat of the summer training season, the focus of the first phase is on an indoor turf training field, ringed by strength/conditioning wing, academics wing, and a spiritual wing. The second phase is slated to encompass an indoor basketball venue, outdoor basketball courts, and an outdoor football training field. A school, football stadium and baseball stadium are all planned for future phases.
The architectural design was inspired by the sugarcane fields that surround the two communities. Textures and patterns were extrapolated from the cane and interpreted into architecture. The goal was to develop an architecture that relates to “The Glades” and is a catalyst to the revitalization of the area. Part of Rev. Kenny’s vision is to create a destination venue that brings Training Tourism and Competition Tourism to the area, thus opening new business opportunities for lodging, restaurateurs, and retail.
As this vision progresses, S3 will continue to be a part of the team that develops GRACE Multiplex for the Belle Glade community.