Award Winner - May/June 2004
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Worthington Community Center
Worthington, Ohio


S u b m i t t e d    b y:

moody · nolan, inc. in columbus, ohio

New: 47,000 square feet
Renovated: 27,000 square feet

Project cost:
$8.7 million

Quick tour:

  • 12,725-square-foot natatorium including 4,485-square-foot leisure pool; four-lane, 25-yard lap pool; and 140-square-foot spa
  • Locker rooms
  • Three-lane, 1/12th-mile track
  • 5,200 square-foot fitness center
  • Aerobic room
  • Glass classroom
  • Group-exercise room
  • Game room
  • Lobby control center
  • Renovated multipurpose gym with a DIN-certified synthetic floor
  • Renovated art and childcare rooms

Residents of Worthington, Ohio, had no place to work out. Really. Not a health club in sight. "A public or private fitness facility did not exist in Worthington," says Bill Poling, director of parks and recreation. "It became evident that the community really wanted a fitness facility."

Thanks to a tremendous amount of community input, a new fitness and aquatic addition became a reality for the existing 1970s-style community center, doubling the old facility in size. Of course, some major changes were necessary.

"We had to turn the building to a completely new entrance and add a control link to the old and new parts," says Mark Bodien, principal for MoodyoNolan, Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, which handled the project. Using exposed wood extensively (including wood windows, beams, trusses and exposed wood decking), the addition adds plenty of new amenities as well as embraces the lodge-like character of the existing structure, creating a more unified building.

"The staff worked extensively on the functionality of the building, making sure that what they were building was going to work," Poling says. They also were concerned with air quality, water quality and air circulation within the aquatic area, so an ozone system was installed to deal with those issues.

The four-lane lap pool is complemented by a leisure pool that has been divided into three portions: a zero beach with gadgets and gismos, geysers and a slide; a central portion with a water slide; and an area that can be roped off for water aerobics, with an activity area offering a current channel, bubble benches and a vortex. The amount of deck space was kept to a minimum to encourage parents' involvement with their children using the pool. A modified cloverleaf spa is also provided for individuals, couples or small groups.

"The design challenge was to fit an exciting leisure pool addition into a small and narrow space," says Richard C. Scott, vice president of Water Technology, Inc. in Beaver Dam, Wis. "The design had to become more linear but ultimately resulted in an outstanding community family aquatic center."

Meanwhile, the new fitness center was designed to be warm and inviting, continuing the exposed wood deck and trusses from the lobby space while becoming more intimate as you travel through it. An innovative approach raised the fitness area 15 inches from the track level to allow the users to see over the heads of runners in order to look outside or into the pool or other spaces. The fitness area also boasts some impressive, high-pitched, wood deck ceilings.

"We called it the Cathedral of Fitness‚ÄĒthat was a joke we had," Bodien says. "But we scaled it back, so it's more of a Chapel of Fitness." This ceiling-chapel effect is also evident back in the new lobby, where a front desk offers staff casual control over the entire building. The overall effect is spacious, yet comfortable.

"By center standards, we're not huge," Poling says. "But we are a small community, and it reflects the community well."

Although not gargantuan, it's safe to say the community center is popular with the public, after reaching its capacity for resident pass-holders within its first five months. Within the first year, its waiting list for nonresidents grew to 900 families.

"It's been a very nice reflection on our programming; those activities, which were already well used, have become more in demand," Poling says. Because of the new building, more people know about the wide range of the more than 400 program offerings, he says.

"Not only did the community want it, but economically I think it's another element to attract people to come work and live and play in Worthington," Poling says. "Communities need tools. This has been a good one."

J u d g e s '   N o t e s

"Good interior spaces‚ÄĒvery exciting. The area over the front desk with exposed wood ceiling and trusses is especially good. I really like the extensive use of glazing on the exterior to create architectural elements. It looks great at night."

Christell Leonard

"Comprehensive mix of uses. Dance studio‚ÄĒwonderful. Entry elevations and glazing powerful."

mark wentzell

A s s o c i a t e d    F i r m s

mechanical/electrical engineering consultant

Korda/Nemeth Engineering

Aquatic engineer

Water Technology, Inc.

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