An Activity Buffet
Servus Credit Union Place
St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
When Servus Credit Union Place was conceived several years ago, it had a critical—yet arduous—goal: get residents moving.
A local survey showed roughly 25 percent of residents already participated in some kind of physical activity. It was architect Stephen Barr's responsibility to engage the rest of them.
"I don't want to prescribe what people are doing," Barr said. "We provide a buffet of things to do. It tends to get people together."
As such, the facility was designed to attract the broadest demographic of community use and to increase the development of community wellness through sport and leisure activities. The programs incorporated a variety of major components in combination with spontaneous and leisure-use areas. The facility is strongly family-oriented, providing activities for everyone from toddlers to active seniors.
"It was very much a community-based initiative," said Facility Director Paul Moulton. "If people say we need it, we need it."
The facility's cornerstone is the family fitness/wellness center that offers cardio, weight training and aerobic programming. In an effort to encourage family use, Servus Place boasts a large indoor playground with two adjacent rooms for program development, childcare and birthday parties.
The community already has a full-size swim tank, so the aquatic center solely addresses leisure needs. The indoor pool has spray toys, a current river, slides and hot tubs for both families and adults.
In order to encourage all-day use of the facility, a variety of concessions and leases have been developed throughout the facility. Servus Place patrons now enjoy beverage concessions, a sports lounge, a sports equipment store and a sports medicine/physiotherapy center.
"The real success is there are a million stories about how people use the facility," Barr said. "There isn't just one way to use it."
To bolster participation, the design includes a major public concourse running through the entire center. The corridor links all major components, providing internal visibility from one space through to the other. The visibility encourages the building's "community" feel and reinforces the familiar atmosphere.
"The big-box areas of the facility are easy to design," Barr said. "It's the things that happened in between them, like the ice cream place located near the pool. It's those things that really socialize the building and bring people together."
Patrons clearly have responded to the design. Five months after opening, Servus Place had more than 7,500 members. The building averages about 1,000 patrons a day.
"When you stand inside the building, you see an entire community using it," Barr said. "We have something for everyone. It's the fun that keeps bringing them back."
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