Located in a low-income neighborhood, the Whitney Recreation and Senior Center is part of an existing community park that now houses a pool house and swimming, senior center and approximately 5 acres of park. The existing recreation center was closed and razed due to a toxic mold infection. The new center replaced the old structure and added new functions that were not part of the original. The program called for a gymnasium, classrooms, multipurpose room, fitness room, administration space and a rock-climbing wall.
The location of existing facilities dictated the placement of the building within the existing park. Water-consuming grass was removed and replaced with the new building. The new building is linked to the existing senior center by a central courtyard. Within the courtyard is a site-work designed by a regional artist with input from and construction by community members. The client had one requirement; the building must be “simple”. This was achieved by separating the building into four program areas: 1) classrooms, 2) fitness/computer rooms, 3) administration/multi-purpose area, and 4) gymnasium. Each area evolved into its own architectural form with its own material. The building became, in a sense, blocks of material collaged together and anchored by the climbing-wall tower at the main entrance.