Grand Prairie, Texas
The Summit is unlike any other active adult center in the nation," according to Summit Manager Linda Long. This new, 56,541-square-foot 50-plus club in Grand Prairie, Texas, represents a revolution in the way communities serve older citizens.
While traditional senior centers engender images of bingo nights and blood pressure screenings, an emerging set of younger, more active seniors is placing new demands on community facilities. As the majority of the baby boomer generation has passed the age of 50, city governments are hearing a call for workout facilities, deluxe amenities and social events that cater to this group.
In Grand Prairie, the journey began with a simple need for space to accommodate a growing population of seniors. From the earliest planning stages, the city worked with the design team to research public facilities that might be in line with the multigenerational approach they were seeking, but none were to be found.
"In planning for this facility, we visited senior centers in other cities, then quickly realized our vision was much more in line with private sector," said Rick Harold, parks and recreation director for Grand Prairie. So the city turned to private facilities like country clubs and resorts for its vision.
The new facility needed to fit into a larger, master-planned development called Central Park, which was already in progress. In addition to a lake and boardwalk, this development also included a new Public Safety building. The design team was challenged to blend the aesthetics of the diverse elements on the site to create an attractive, cohesive design.
To serve the needs of two groups of seniors, the building was split, creating two distinct, but connected, environments. One side houses facilities for more athletically inclined adults with a workout room, saltwater lap pool with exercise vortex, gymnasium, yoga and aerobics studio and more. The other side caters to those who prefer sweat-free recreation, with craft and game rooms, a pottery center, a teaching kitchen, an 88-seat movie theater, a café and ballroom.
The lobby is the common element, providing flexible socialization opportunities with leather lounge seating, a café and bistro tables, a fireplace and a baby grand piano. It is also home to a kinetic art piece and, of course, views to the outside. Outside, there is a resort-style patio, bar and gaming area, which connects to the boardwalk rimming the lake.
While typical recreation centers must respect the destructive forces of youth, the Summit's use of materials exudes the air of a private club. The exercise room, for example, uses high-end, digitized workout equipment, and the changing rooms feature wood lockers, granite finishes and saunas. The whole building is adorned with plants and flowers grown by members in the Summit's on-site greenhouses.
Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, the Summit exhibits high standards for indoor air quality, energy-efficient lighting and mechanical systems, and water-conserving landscaping and aquatic features.
The design takes advantage of the building's siting, with transparency linking activity spaces to outdoors and the lake. The challenging northwest exposure is mitigated with large trellis canopies that serve as a unifying design element for the building's presentation to the public. Spaces without need for connection to the outdoors are placed on the opposite side of the building.
The project was funded with a continuation of a 1/8-cent sales tax levy approved by voters, and ongoing costs will be supported by the parks and recreation budget, membership fees and on-site revenues. The facility, expected to draw 100,000 visitors annually, provides an outlet for older adults, both physically and mentally, providing an enhanced quality of life for the entire community.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.grandfungp.com/TheSummit/default.htm
W H A T T H E J U D G E S S A I D
"Ushering in a new generation of baby boomer facilities, The Summit brings a country club spa feel to a municipal facility, making both the older and younger generations feel welcome."
"At last, a place for the Boomers to zoom on!"
"This project is well executed from concept to final detail. Every aspect is well thought out and executed. Only a well coordinated team of professionals could do a project like this; so well detailed. Beautiful use of materials, excellent combination both outside and in. Very well crafted! Love the way the plan is reflected in the elevations. Very impressive."
A S S O C I A T E D F I R M S
Architect: Brinkley Sargent Architects
Aquatics: Counsilman Hunsaker
Landscape Architect: MESA Design Associates
Structural: Structural Engenuity
Civil: Halff Associates
Construction Manager: Manhattan Construction Co.
MEP: M-E Engineers
A/V/Acoustical: BAI LLC