Nazareth College Golisano Training Center

Leveling the Playing Field for Athletes of All Abilities and Ages

LaBella worked with Nazareth College on programming and designing a new 108,000 sq. ft. athletic training center on the Nazareth campus. This project presented great design opportunities as we were tasked with designing a facility that would promote the health and wellness and athletic needs of Nazareth’s students and student athletes, as well as athletes with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Throughout the design process, we collaborated and teamed with the Special Olympics (with whom the college has a long-standing partnership), Sportsnet, Kids Miracle Making Club, multiple athletic coordinators at Nazareth College, and the local community. The design team merged deep expertise in athletic facilities, higher education pedagogy, and inclusive design principles from the project’s inception.

The center creates opportunities for Nazareth students to work with Special Olympics New York program participants, offering health screening services and wellness programs on a regular schedule in a convenient location. Nazareth Health and Human Services students will gain invaluable real-world experiences that strengthen their skills and knowledge and help them become competent, compassionate professionals comfortable working with people of all abilities.

On a wider scale, this exciting initiative aims to create a new model of innovation and partnership for Healthy Communities across the United States and the world, while also providing education for coaches, mentors, athletes, and supporters.


A National Model of Wellness and Inclusion

The Golisano Training Center was the first of its kind in the Northeast to be designed at its inception for inclusion and engagement of the special needs community. Some of the building’s design highlights include the following:

  • Large flow patterns and circulation spaces to accommodate large groups and those with alternative modes of mobility
  • A 300-meter, eight-lane indoor track designed to accommodate those who use wheelchairs and who have other mobility challenges
  • An indoor turf field, courts,  a physical therapy training room, and a specialized weight training area that includes inclusive equipment
  • A sensory room to help participants who become overstimulated or overheated
  • A space that doubles as a dark space for concussion safety protocols
  • Interior finish choices that encourage focus on activities and mitigate distractions
  • Family-style restrooms and open-format lockers rooms to further assist with accessibility for people of all abilities
Groundbreaking for the Nazareth College Golisano Training Center
Members of the LaBella design team, including Emily Steinbacher, Leila Mantilla, Jeff Roloson and Bob Steehler.

Grand Opening

In October 2019, LaBella joined Nazareth College, Special Olympics New York, and the Golisano Foundation in celebrating the opening of the Golisano Training Center!
The ceremony included competitive unified basketball games (where people with and without intellectual disabilities play on the same team), tennis drills with Special Olympics and Nazareth athletes, and information about Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® screenings.

The event was well attended by the community and media. Below are a few links to media coverage:

Democrat and Chronicle Article

Democrat and Chronicle Photo Gallery

WXXI News Article

13WHAM Article

Featured Press

Designing for Inclusivity

Learn more about the design of this project directly from Gabe Antenucci, a higher education project manager at LaBella and part of the design team for Nazareth College’s new Golisano Training Center.

In this article, featured in University Business, Gabe discusses three design and programming considerations for accommodating special needs users when adapting an existing facility or building a new one.


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