Award Winner - May/June 2006
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Built for Generations

Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center
Apache Junction, Ariz.

S U B M I T T E D    B Y:

VCBO Architecture, LLC in Salt Lake City

Size: 43,524 square feet

Project cost: $3.7 million

Quick tour:

  • Senior center
  • Recreation center
  • 3,100-square-foot elevated running track
  • 1,136-square-foot aerobics/dance space
  • 3,363-square-foot weight-lifting area
  • 28-foot climbing wall
  • 3,440-square-foot multipurpose room
  • 1,840-square-foot full-service kitchen
  • 1,600-square-foot storage area
  • 925-square-foot preschool/day care—"Kids Club"
  • 250-square-foot conference room/training room
  • Dining area
  • 7,842-square-foot gymnasium
  • 920-square-foot game room
  • 1,800-square-foot lobby/reception area
  • 990 square feet of locker rooms
  • 1,511 square feet of classrooms
  • 1,918-square-foot preschool and toddler art programs

The Apache Junction Multi-Generational Recreation Center does more than draw inspiration from its desert setting.

It respects it.

The facility is the first indoor recreation center in Apache Junction, Ariz., a town that sits at the base of the Superstition Mountains. While designing the building to be visually pleasing and blend into the natural landscaping, it also was constructed in a way that reduces the need for natural resources without reducing its functionality.

The center is a LEED-certified project, a prestigious designation given to structures that embrace environmentally conscious designs. Several sustainable elements that were incorporated into the project include the use of renewable resources and the reclamation of recycled products. The design embraces sustainability through the use of natural daylighting, which reduces the need for electricity. Other eco-friendly elements include reduced water usage, both in the landscape and the building, through the use of water-saving components such as low-flow showers and sinks, waterless urinals, and drought-resistant plantings.

"We tried to minimize the impact on the environment," says architect Brent Tippets, AIA, partner at VCBO Architecture, LLC in Salt Lake City. "For example, the structure uses less water and less energy. We also made sure mass transportation was available."

The project was designed not to stand out as an architectural icon but rather to fit into the natural landscape. Its success is reflected in the way that the building fuses with the surrounding desert environment. Large windows allow patrons to enjoy local vistas, while the colors, forms and materials all were selected to harmonize with the natural desert setting.

"I think our facility captures our community," Apache Junction Facilities Manager Jamie Sullivan says. "When people are in our facility, they can enjoy the beauty of nature inside."

While the facility addresses environmental and aesthetic concerns, it also meets a pressing need in the community. Residents long expressed a desire to have a local gathering place, a spot where seniors and family could gather and enjoy time together.

Their requests became the design team's mission. The combination of a senior/community center was planned to allow for a single-point-of-service opportunity to provide a full spectrum of recreation and community activities for seniors. The design team was directed to clearly identify the two functions of the building—a senior center and a recreation center—and to provide smooth wayfinding to the different functions.

The end result was thoughtfully designed single building that meets a myriad of needs.

As guests enter the facility, two clearly delineated reception desks greet them and identify the different uses. Although two separate departments share the building, the facility flows as one.

A major focal point is a three-story climbing wall that is located in the central lobby area. The placement of the climbing wall was critical for visibility and for its connection to the exterior. Other significant components include a large double-wide gymnasium, a suspended walking/running track, a fitness and cardiovascular area, aerobics room, game room, senior center multipurpose gathering space, and community classrooms that include two craft areas.

The $3.7 million building was designed under a very tight budget, while maintaining all the functional aspects needed for recreational programming. It has received rave reviews from Apache Junction residents, making it a true community center.

"This is an opportunity for families to come together and recreate in one central location," Sullivan says. "The response has been very positive and enthusiastic."


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

All spaces relate to one another with good 'human' scale. Combination of budget constraints/LEED/blending with environment made this a very good project.

Jason Tramonte

The curving plan provides for an opportunity to create interesting exterior forms and interior spaces. Logical layout makes for clear user understanding. The adherence to LEED principles is exemplary. In spite of a fairly modest budget, it has rich, warm feel that belies the thought given during the design process.

Greg Garlock

Appears to provide a great balance of amenities for a senior/community center. View from the track to the North is spectacular. Very good flow and an interesting geometry. I really like the adjacencies of the community/classroom wing—works very well. Track extending outside the gym box is exciting. Lobby has a wonderful feel with natural stone and vaulted structure. Overall, a very effective plan with a great functional layout.

Chris Kastelic

Plan seems to flow well. Great use of views. Simple rugged forms complements context of region. Nice use of forms to bring massing of large spaces to a human scale. Nice to see forms other than monolithic rectangles.

Kenneth J. Ogden

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Associate architect:

Breckenridge Group

Landscape architect:

Terrano Landscape

Structural engineer:

TLCP Structural, Inc.

Electrical engineer:

Intech Engineering Group

Mechanical engineer:

Intech Engineering Group

Civil engineer:

Can-Am Engineering

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