Award Winner - July/August 2003
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Community Connection

Vandalia Community Recreation Center
Vandalia, Ohio

The parks and rec department in Vandalia, Ohio, was always in a pinch for programming space and scheduling.


"All our programs were run through the school facilities," says Dean Nardecchia, director of the Vandalia Parks and Recreation Department. "Any time you utilize schools facilities you will have conflicts due to the student activities."

Vandalia was also missing its own home for recreation and leisure. So plans were made for a true place for residents to relax, play and just catch up.

"We made it a community center and not just a fitness facility," Nardecchia says. "It's a sense of bringing people back together. That says a lot for a community. You feel good about where you live."

Situated in a 100-acre soccer/baseball recreation complex, the Vandalia Community Recreation Center is designed as an intergenerational destination, with all the activities unveiled to patrons as they enter. The wedge-shaped lobby opens to the fitness area, climbing wall, track and lounge, efficiently organizing the larger activity spaces of the building. The connectivity of this space maximizes the building's efficiency at 87 percent usable space with only 13 percent for circulation, walls and so on. An expansive glass curtain wall, clerestory and skylights illuminate the natural color pallet of the interior atrium and help connect the interior spaces with the exterior sports fields.

The inviting design seems to be working well, with membership sales exceeding planners' expectations. It's also become a feather in the city's collective cap.

"You see people out in the community, and they're proud of it," Nardecchia says. "It's a sense of ownership."

"The use of open space has value all in itself. Well laid out and thought out. Simplistic but elegant in its presentation to the community. Arches, wedges, right angles—this facility has it all. First class!"

—D. Scot Hunsaker

"Traditional community recreation center enhanced by income-generating elements and strong patron capacity per square foot."

—Paul Brailsford

"This project has an inviting entry element that is a direct extension of the simple yet striking plan. There is a lot of visual excitement as one enters this facility. Simple patterns utilized throughout the interior add excitement and reinforce the simple geometry of the plan."

—Reed I. Voorhees

Submitted by: John Poe Architects in Dayton, Ohio

Size: 58,367 square feet

Project cost: $8,649,658

Quick tour:

  • 12,000-square-foot indoor aquatics center with water slide, zero-depth entry pool and four lap lanes
  • 10,193-square-foot gymnasium
  • 1,931-square-foot aerobics/dance room
  • 7,000-square-foot free-weight and fitness equipment area
  • 1/4-mile indoor track
  • 27-foot-high climbing wall
  • Babysitting facility
  • Locker rooms
  • Meeting room/backup emergency operations center
  • Administrative offices and mechanical spaces

Associated Firms

Design architects: Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture

Programming/operational consultant: Ballard*King and Associates

Aquatic consultant: Water Technology, Inc.

PME/civil/structural engineering: Korda/Nemeth Engineering

Aerobics/dance studio flooring: Connor

Basketball backboards/supports and divider curtains: Draper

Climbing walls: Leading Edge

Track surface and fitness flooring: Mondo America Inc.

Volleyball nets and standards: Senoh (Sports Imports) Locker/shower flooring: Dal Tile

Lockers: Deskin Tech

Swimsuit dryer: Extractor Corporation

Pool chemical control system: USFilter/Stranco Products

Pool cleaners/vacuum: Aqua Products Inc.

Pool dehumidifiers: Desert Air Corporation

Pool filters: Neptune Benson Inc.

Pool heaters: Bell and Gosset

Ladders/grab bars: KDI Paragon

Lane markers: Recreonics Inc.

Pool lighting: SPI Industries Inc.

Starting block: KDI Paragon

Water play features: SCS Interactive Inc., a Division of Koala Corp.

Water slides: ProSlide Technology Inc.

Ozone system: BWT Wassertechnic

Aerobic cross-trainers: Stairmaster, a division of Nautilus Health & Fitness

Climbers: Cybex International/Life Fitness

Elliptical equipment and treadmills: Precor/Life Fitness

Entertainment systems, member motivation: Cardio Theatre

Free-weight equipment: Troy/Cybex International

Stair climbers and stationary bikes/ergometers (recumbent): Cybex International

Playground equipment: Landscape Structures Inc.

Indoor play structure: Delta Play Company, a division of Koala Corporation

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