Award Winner - May 2009
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Recreation 'Farm-acular'

Claude Moore Recreation Center
Sterling, Va.

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

Moody-Nolan Inc.
in Columbus, Ohio

Size: 91,000 square feet

Project Cost: $14.5 million

Quick Tour:

  • Located in 375-acre historical park
  • 50-meter by 25-yard pool with one bulkhead
  • 5,200-square-foot leisure pool
  • Wet classroom
  • Climbing wall
  • 10,000-square-foot gymnasium
  • 6,500-square-foot fitness area
  • 1/16-mile elevated track
  • 2 multipurpose rooms
  • Catering kitchen
  • Teen lounge
  • Licensed childcare with drop-in babysitting


s suburban sprawl swallows once-bucolic Loudoun County, Virginia, residents desired a community center that embraced its rural heritage and rejected the big-box buildings that now overwhelm its landscape. Those pastoral wishes were granted with the Claude Moore Community Center and its "farmacular" architecture.

"Our firm practices what we call responsive architecture," said Curt Moody, president and CEO of Moody Nolan. "We have to let the nature of the site and the environment drive the design direction. Of course each client, each site and each project has to be taken into consideration. It was located in a rural farm area that is still that way, so instead of making that a negative, we tried to make that a positive."

With 91,000 gross square feet of activity spaces, the building is organized as a farm compound of simple connected masses that orient to the park entry drive and adjacent woodland. A traditional barn-and-silo profile serves as the entry marker for the complex, providing a unique feature for a building that glows at night with fitness and recreational aquatics activities. Smaller out-buildings for the gym, community rooms, teen and childcare areas extend from the central lobby.

The transparent central entry, control point and fitness area are flanked by views into the gymnasium and aquatics area, with a large control desk to welcome users. Direct visibility to all of the activity areas from the lobby adds constant excitement and easy supervision for daily operations. Overhead, a jogging track runs through

the facility's heart above the fitness area, with exterior vistas on two sides of the building and interior views to the entry lobby, climbing wall, gym and both pools.

The aquatics area features both a stretch 50-meter competitive training pool and a leisure pool with sundeck in separate natatoria, linked by a common locker and mechanical core and family changing suite. The iconic silo, clad in a regional glazed silo brick, forms the experience and launch pad of the spiral water slide, with a circular party room below opening onto the pool deck.

Architects faced one major constraint in designing the building. With the site located within a historic park, the design needed to be sympathetic to its environment. Horizontal composite siding with stone base and standing seam metal roofing enclose the majority of the complex. Playful, bold reds and yellows help differentiate the masses while still adding to the "community farmstead" residential/agricultural feel.

The large expanses of glazing on the exterior and interior contemporize the feel of the facility while providing great daylight, views and interior transparency. Interior finishes include corrugated metal siding, stained concrete and exposed ceilings and mechanical systems for easy maintenance and durability, while enhancing the comfortable rustic feel to the facility.

"It does have unique architecture that reflects the community and aspects of the park," said Diane Ryburn, director of parks, recreation and community services for Loudoun County. "It really goes with the theme of the park. It has been fantastic."


A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Architect of Record:

Wisnewski Blair & Associates Ltd.

Design Architect:

Moody-Nolan Inc.

Aquatic Design Engineer:

Counsilman Hunsaker & Associates

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