Facility Profile - April 2007
Find a printable version here

Grab Your Partner, Build Your Community

Gypsum Recreation Center in Gypsum, Colo.

By Emily Tipping

The Gypsum Recreation Center serves community members of all ages and abilities with a multi-use pool, a multipurpose gymnasium, an aerobics room, a dedicated gymnastics area and a climbing wall, among other features. Despite its large size, the facility is designed to blend into its environment.

"The exterior was meant to look like it had been there a long time, so it was designed like a barn, and the biggest volumes—the gym and the natatorium—are built with a material that is intended to rust, so it blends in with the hillside," Bouck said.

He added that ultimately, the building has met the initial high expectations of the town's leaders, while staying within a reasonable budget. "They deferred a lap pool to another phase and included a leisure pool in this part," he said. "They did the multipurpose gymnasium. Some of the local schools have gyms with maple floors, so there was no need to duplicate what the local schools already have."

The gymnastics area was added halfway through the project, when a local provider who was "struggling to make ends meet" sold his equipment to the town, Bouck said.

"Halfway through the design, they gave us this list of gymnastics equipment and said let's take half of that multipurpose gymnasium and make it for gymnastics," Bouck said. "The WECMRD didn't have any experience running a gymnastics program either, so they went and got some of the people from the private side and brought them into the program."

With a couple of the town's leaders involved in climbing, an indoor climbing wall was a top desire for the facility. They ended up hiring Boulder-based Monolithic to design a wall that challenges climbers of all abilities.

"There's a few of us that are climbers, and Monolithic put a great wall together," Schroll said. "It's being run by a nonprofit. They encourage people to get certified. They run the safety components and teach climbing classes."

Nearly 700 people have signed liability forms to climb on the wall, and the first climbing competition was held recently.

"Monolithic came up and climbed a lot of the rocks around Gypsum, and learned the routes and kinds of rock and built the climbing wall in the center to mimic the rocks around Gypsum," Bouck explained. "They're very proud of it. There are some extreme routes on it that some of the master climbers can't do, as well as some routes for beginners and a bouldering wall with overhangs."

This approach reigns throughout the facility, which is built for patrons of all abilities and ages.

"In terms of the fitness areas, they want to make sure that they're reaching out to all ages—seniors as well as more mainstay kinds of fitness, and programs for kids, too," Bouck said. "There's not a lot for kids to do in the mountain towns, so they made an effort to put in a game room, an indoor playground and a baby-sitting room."

Getting everyone involved in the activities featured at the center makes it a great location for building community. There is a living room area with a café and coffee bar, and a lounge area with a large fireplace, leather chairs, games and a television.

"They wanted the center to be about community building," Bouck said, "They wanted it to be as much about passive recreation as active recreation. So the whole center is built around a big living room. People can sit at kind of a bar setting in a community room and have a place to be with other people—a see-and-be-seen place. They put a large fireplace in the center space, and then a lounge area doubles as a senior activity area. From there you can see the climbing wall and the baby-sitting area. It all pinwheels from that central living room space."

Schroll, who looks out his office window at the recreation center, also emphasized the facility's ability to bring the community together.

"You see people you don't normally see. It's the major social opportunity outside of school functions," he explained. "I know a lot of moms are walking together. Husbands and wives are lifting together, while their kids play in the pool. It's really just what the doctor ordered for building a healthy community."


Gypsum Recreation Center:

Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture: