A Resort Right at Home
Aspen Lodge Recreation Center at Anthem Ranch
"We focused on the concept of a resort or retreat, a Colorado lodge, where the people here were getting away from it all," said Michael Bensky, project manager of DTJ Design, the architect-of-record on the project.
The building features steep roofs, very distinctive to Colorado, Bensky explained, "because of the snow. It's a fantastic look," he added. In keeping with that resort-like, relaxed feel, the designers didn't want something that was "sterile or industrial," so a lot of natural materials were used, such as natural woods. A lot of dark bronze and rustic touches were added to keep in tune with the lodge look.
Stepping into the great room, complete with vaulted ceiling and cozy fireplace, imparts a sense of intimacy, which Bensky said is one of the things that makes this recreation center unique.
"Unlike a family recreation center where you are catering to smaller children or families, where your focus is on serviceability and trying to maintain the building, this user group is primarily adults, and because of that, tailoring it for them enables the spaces to be more intimate," he said. He noted the variety in lighting, specifically around the pools (interior and exterior) at night create a "special place" with a sophistication suitable to its audience.
Despite its spa-like atmosphere, this user group is not here just to relax. "We have some amazing folks," said Brian Long, PCAM, community manager for the Anthem Ranch community association. "What we don't want is residents moving in and staying in their homes."
The center, while encouraging fitness, not just inside but outside as well, also encourages social interaction and other recreational programming. It features a fitness center and natatorium along with multi-use rooms, a billiards room, warming kitchen, walking/jogging track, aerobics and dance studio, bocce ball courts, tennis courts, shuffleboard, horseshoes, full-service locker rooms and co-ed massage rooms.
"It really is a good balance of the practical aspects of programming and programming space," Long said.
Because the users are 55 and older, considerable thought was put into things like door transitions and handrails as residents may encounter some mobility issues as they age. The designers were cognizant of these issues beyond the ADA requirements for accessibility, which this building meets. The pool has a ramp for easier access, and the treadmills are lower to the ground.
Perhaps the greatest feature of the building occurs outside of it. The building faces the mountains, with visitors getting a prime view of the Front Range from the entryway and outdoor pool. Most indoor spaces open to views of the mountains. Not only is the view spectacular, but the facility is located adjacent to a larger network of interconnected paths leading to a park, also designed by DTJ. "It's the inner connection between interior and exterior," Bensky said. "Bring the inside out and the outside in."
In addition to meeting the design goals laid out for the team, Bensky noted that this was "the best project I've ever worked on from an owner-architect-contractor team. The contractor was incredibly proactive—they were on top of everything. The owner was always available to solve problems quickly and make decisions."
According to Long, the residents are very happy with the finished product. "It feels like a little vacation for someone," he said, "yet it has a lot of practical elements. The spaces are flexible enough to allow a variety of things to happen in the same room over the course of one day."
The energy and vivacity of the community are reflected in the building, and in Long's opinion, "it builds upon itself." The more active the residents are physically, the more they will be socially and so on.