Award Winner - May 2008
Putting People First
Matt Ross Community Center
Overland Park, Kansas
hen the City of Overland Park, Kan., found its existing community center plagued by soaring maintenance costs and limited space to meet the needs of a growing population, the city's leaders embraced the opportunity to build a new community center that would become an enduring resource for citizens and visitors alike.
The city took an inclusive "people first" attitude toward the design and building process, and the resulting Matt Ross Community Center definitely puts people first. Sustainable building techniques not only protect the environment, but also the health of the facility's users. Locally sourced materials used in the facility direct investment back to the local community. Even the art budget embraced the broader community, with art from a diverse array of local and regional artists. Finally, the facility offers a wide range of activities and programs to meet the needs of the people—for fitness and for fun.
The visually appealing exterior of the Matt Ross Community Center features an all-brick skin, which reflects the surrounding area. Two large patios provide visual interest as well as a connection between inside and outside.
Once indoors, the skylight and two large openings in the upper level diffuse the building with natural light, while an open and airy floor plan gives space to a number of distinctive design elements and custom finishes. Despite the openness, the facility is also comforting, with a large see-through fireplace in the Hearth Room, colorful abstract murals, and a spa-like environment in the locker rooms, which feature soft recessed lighting above cherry veneer lockers.
"A citadel of physical health," according to architectural firm GouldEvans, the center offers "everything a fitness-minded individual could envision, from pools and basketball courts to cardiovascular machines, free weights and exercise classes. A visitor can sprint around the walking/jogging track or relax in the lazy river, fly down the waterslide or pursue a Zen-like state in a yoga class."
In addition to its recreation areas, the facility also features meeting space, an arts and crafts studio, a child care area, a catering kitchen and offices.
The center incorporates an impressive number of green design and building techniques, from the roof to the floors. Even the dehumidification unit required for the indoor pools has gone green, using heated condensation water to heat the pools, which reduces water usage and saves money. Locker rooms and restrooms feature low-flow faucets and hydro-powered flush valves.
The commitment to sustainability doesn't stop at the facility's walls. Outside, lighting fixtures were chosen for their low-light-pollution qualities, and large islands in the parking lot increase green space and provide space for native shade trees. The site's pedestrian-friendly nature encourages people to walk or bike, rather than driving.
Beyond its environmental impact, the Matt Ross Community Center is also having a major impact on its surrounding area, where local business owners have initiated several new projects to revitalize the area.
W H A T T H E J U D G E S S A I D
The Matt Ross Community Center is one of the most innovative designs submitted this year. It gets high marks for its attention to detail, computer screens and technology throughout and ease of guest experience. Love the see-through fireplace at the hearth room to the exterior.
Lovely building, all-encompassing program. Great views between program elements.
A S S O C I A T E D F I R M S
McCown Gordon Construction LLC