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Guest Column - October 2010

Design Corner

Enhance Your Rec Center's Quality of Life

By Steve Blackburn


With most every community across the country forced to pinch pennies while awaiting recovery from a sluggish economy, it is no surprise that numerous plans for new, state-of-the-art recreation centers have been either abandoned or shoved to the back-burner.

Nevertheless, that does not mean communities need to accept the status quo and continue operating outdated recreation facilities that are either overcrowded or underused due to wear-and-tear and a lack of popular amenities and activities.

Many of today's older recreation centers can be successfully renovated or expanded at a fraction of the cost to build a new multigenerational facility. Indeed, the economic slowdown may be a blessing in disguise. Not only are construction prices recently coming in at multi-year lows, a renovation also forces a thorough reevaluation and examination of a center's physical condition, programs, services and community goals.

Two recent examples of successful renovations include the Golden Community Center in Colorado and the Shawnee YMCA in Oklahoma. The Golden facility was originally built in 1994, and has been a sensation for years within the community. In order to accommodate the newest trends in recreation, the city hired Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture to design a $2.5 million renovation and addition. Refreshed spaces within the building included a new entry, family changing rooms, locker rooms, preschool area and reception desk. The existing weight room was renewed into a wellness room, spinning area and dance room with storage. The addition included a new weight room and cardio area, new entry with party room, indoor soft play area, vending and game area.

For the Shawnee YMCA, Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture conducted a programming and site selection study for the YMCA to determine the need for an indoor recreation facility, define the program and prepare budgets for project development. It was determined a $9.5 million project was required including an addition of approximately 27,500 square feet and renovation of approximately 21,000 square feet of existing space. A new entry was designed that welcomes visitors and enables them to glimpse the many activities that they may participate in during their visit. A new leisure and lap pool, including a lazy river which doubles as a resistance channel for exercise, therapy and rehabilitation was added, creating family fun and fitness. New locker rooms and a fitness area were also added. Renovated spaces include the gymnasium, child care and aerobics areas.

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