BEAUTY ON A BUDGET
City of Fort Lupton Community Recreation Center
Fort Lupton, Colo.
Tight budgets and stylish beauty don't tend to go hand in hand, which is one reason why the new Fort Lupton Community Recreation Center in Fort Lupton, Colo., is so impressive. The 37,800-square-foot center, which serves a rural
community of about 7,500 people 30 minutes' drive from Denver, offers guests a leisure pool, weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise rooms, indoor gymnasium/court space, a rock-climbing wall, child-care area, and teen center.
"This was our shot at a building," says Monty Schuman, the center's director. "We weren't going to be able to come back every few years and build a new building, so we knew we had to get it right."
One challenge that designers faced was the fact that the new building would have to incorporate an existing community center that already stood on the site. In that sense, the new structure could be considered an addition, although by the time construction was completed, the finished product was more than four times larger than the original, and visitors would be hard-pressed to point out where the old center ends and the new section begins.
At the same time, while designers wanted the new construction to blend seamlessly with what was already there, they didn't want to be limited by what project architect Christopher Kastelic calls the "typical concrete block and metal panels of your more traditional recreation centers" that constituted the original exterior.
"We really tried to play the interior against the exterior," Kastelic explains, describing the muted stone flooring in the lobby and the natural wood elements throughout the building.
Schuman calls the resulting contrast a success, giving the interior what he calls a refined look, "almost more like a country club."
Playful but restrained use of color—for example, the weight-training room has a red ceiling—gives the space an energetic and dynamic undertone.
Another challenge, also the result of the small town's limited spending cash, was the need for low staffing requirements. Schuman praises the open, efficient design solution Kastelic's Sink Combs Dethlefs team came up with as being effective from both a safety-monitoring and marketing point of view. There are clear sight lines and, according to Kastelic, only 10 percent to 15 percent of the building is devoted to nonprogramming needs.
"When guests walk into our lobby, they are basically seeing the facility," Schuman explains. "We can put a building attendant on duty, and they can walk in an area about 50 to 60 feet square and see everything that's going on in the whole facility."
One of the things that is going on—and one of the features that Schuman says is particularly popular—is the facility's teen center, nicely appointed for lounging and socializing with a home-theater system and soda-counter-style seating area as well as the more customary foosball, pool tables and other gaming equipment.
"There were two points of view," Schuman recalls, referring to the planners and city stakeholders. "We could make [the teen center] indestructible and just sort of leave them to it, or we could make it nice and let them know it's theirs, so [that] hopefully they'll take care of it. And so far, they have."
Overall, the whole project has made its mark in town.
"We're a smaller community," Schuman says. "People here sometimes feel we don't always get the nice things some of our neighboring communities get, so this building inspires a lot of pride. It's the signature building in the community."