Award Winner - May 2009
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A Seamless Addition

Altoona Campus - Multiphase Expansion
Altoona, Iowa

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

RDG Planning & Design
in Des Moines, Iowa

Size: 31,865 square feet (addition)
plus 3,048 square feet (remodel)

Project Cost: $4.7 million

Quick Tour:

  • Youth gymnasium
  • Spinning
  • Free weights
  • Selectorized strength
  • Expanded exercise/fitness component
  • Cardio theater
  • Racquetball/handball courts
  • Support spaces


ore than 10 years after building an award-winning Community Services Campus, the citizens of Altoona, Iowa, were eager enough for more to pass referenda supporting an addition. The original 40,670-square-foot facility, which features fitness space, a multipurpose gym, swimming pool and more, received a two-phase addition that quadrupled the space for fitness, as well as adding three handball/racquetball courts, a youth gym and more.

The owner's goal was to provide prime exposure to the facility's weight/fitness area, while providing more isolation to the youth gymnasium to reduce the noise and keep it away from the adult traffic. The plan relocated the weight/fitness area to the side of the original building, wrapping the space around the existing gymnasium and providing a connection to the youth gymnasium while augmenting existing circulation pathways.

The existing site had to be expanded to accommodate the addition, and an adjacent railway right-of-way was purchased for this purpose. Extensive re-grading aligned the floor level of the addition with the original facility, and landscaping utilizing natural rain-garden plantings and a planned parking lot with porous paving reinforce the facility's "green" nature.

In fact, the focus of the design was to create an inviting space with a conscious effort to be environmentally friendly. While the facility is not LEED-certified, LEED criteria were used in the planning and design process. This is perhaps most noticeable in the extensive use of natural light to illuminate interior spaces.

Clerestory glass in the cardio portion of the weight/fitness area provides indirect light, eliminating the glare problems typically associated with cardio-theater video screens. This glass also provides a glow at night that attracts activity and interest to the space within. Large windows also provide views to the exterior and the adjacent bike path.

Natural light also makes its way into the new youth gymnasium through a series of translucent skylights. Large upper-level windows here will provide views for a future elevated jogging track, and feature exterior shading devices to control direct sunlight and prevent glare.

The exterior design of the addition provides a continuation of the existing facility's patterns and palette of materials. At the same time, it introduces smooth metal panels and exposed concrete. Metal wall panels confined to the cardio portion of the weight/fitness area give it the prominence requested by the owner.

The combination of materials results in a unified yet contemporary impression, which is used to express the prevalence of technology in modern cardio fitness equipment.


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

Nice fitness center to the south.

Colleen McKenna

Creative complement to existing complex—combination of light modular blocks and strong masonry massing strikes harmonious balance.

Michael Pratl

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Mechanical/Electrical Engineer:

RDG Planning & Design, KJWW Engineering

Structural Engineer:

Shuck Britson Inc.

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