Award Winner - May/June 2006
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The Buck Starts Here

Douglas H. Buck Community Recreation Center
Littleton, Colo.

S U B M I T T E D    B Y:

Barker, Rinker Seacat Architecture in Denver

Size: 54,000 square feet

Project cost: $11.75 million (excluding land and fees)

Quick tour:

  • Gymnasium
  • Natatorium with lazy river; leisure pool with zero-depth entry and play components; three-lane, 25-yard lap pool; and designated warm-water pool for therapy and swim lessons
  • Outdoor patio with whirlpool
  • Fitness area and aerobics studio
  • 16-laps-per-mile running track
  • Men's/women's/family locker rooms
  • Baby-sitting area
  • Rentable multipurpose rooms
  • Computer rooms
  • Stage/wet crafts room
  • Commercial kitchen
  • Independently operated health clinic
  • Lounge with billiards, paperback library and craft sales

In meeting their town's future recreation needs, Littleton, Colo., South Suburban Park and Recreation officials were mindful of its past.

The new 54,000-square-foot Douglas H. Buck Community Recreation Center, which is located directly north of the recently renovated municipal courthouse and within walking distance of the light rail station, reflects the town's traditional values in its history and environment.

Given its proximity to the courthouse, the design team believed it was important that the facility harmonize with its historic neighbor. They accomplished this with warm brick and traditional details that fit the area's character.

"It blends in extremely well with the courthouse," says Bill Woodcock, ASLA manager of planning and construction for the South Suburban Park and Recreation District. "We tried to complement and not compete with the courthouse."

The design team also broke the large building mass into components, which allowed the center to fit nicely into the downtown area. The pitched roof, brick accents and base correspond to the neighboring courthouse's details and the arched windows, while overhangs and roof brackets reference the historic railroad depot and nearby Carnegie Library.

"It's a compact, quality building," says architect Duane Crawmer of Barker, Rinker Seacat Architecture in Denver. "I think the community really appreciates that."

The exterior invites residents into a facility that serves all segments of the population. Although not a senior center, there are many subtleties in the design that accommodate an aging population. For example, natural daylight, indirect lighting and special lighting controls are used to assure a more even, glare-free light. In the fitness area, the exercise equipment is spaced for easier on and off access. Colors throughout the facility are intended to be soothing to aging eyes.

"Because we were replacing a Senior Center, we were very sympathetic to the needs of seniors," Crawmer says.

The lobby was designed to facilitate customer service, providing views to center activities and a spectacular western vista. The reception desk is located to allow supervision of the fitness area, as well as the community wing hallway. A lounge and game room adjacent to the lobby offer views into the pool and to the west. Good visibility to the drop-off area allows easy pickup of children and seniors waiting for rides.

The community wing boasts a multipurpose classroom that can be used for craft activities such as ceramics. This space, which is elevated and attached to a larger multipurpose room, also may be used as an informal performance stage. With a mobile wall separating these rooms, they can serve multiple functions. In addition to computer and baby-sitting rooms, the wing also houses a commercial kitchen for banquets and food programs.

Just passed the reception desk is the fitness room, which is adjacent to a specialized aerobics/dance studio and gymnasium. Locker rooms for men, women and families lead to the natatorium, one of the facility's most popular areas. An outdoor patio adjacent to the natatorium includes a space for sunning and an outdoor whirlpool.

All the elements, both inside and out, combine to create a facility that Littleton residents of all ages can enjoy.

"I've always looked at it as more of a recreation village," Woodcock says, "rather than just one big building to recreate in."


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

I like how the bold accent colors contrast the wood and metal materials.

Colleen McKenna

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Pool consultants:

Water Technology Inc.

Civil/structural engineer:

Martin Martin Consulting Engineers

Electrical engineer:

Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers

Mechanical engineer:

ABS Consultants

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