Community Aquatics Planning: The Family Recreation Center

By Ellis, Kenneth L. | Parks & Recreation, November 1993 | Go to article overview

Community Aquatics Planning: The Family Recreation Center


Ellis, Kenneth L., Parks & Recreation


The majority of community park and recreation programs generally consist of indoor and outdoor activities funded by tax dollars that often don't cover the cost, and most generally do not amortize capital costs. With declining funds from federal and state authorities, municipalities have had to either raise taxes to continue operating and maintaining existing facilities and/or to develop new facilities. Their only other choice is to cut back on existing recreation programs or discard plans for sorely-needed new programs.

The revenue-positive family recreation center (FRC) concept will allow a community to expand its recreation and leisure facilities and provide for the needs of its constituencies. FRC programming promotes a "quality of life" concept by providing more exercise-oriented programs for fitness and well-being, community meeting space for local community projects and, in general, family-oriented activities designed to appeal to all family members, from infants to senior citizens. Most important, the center is designed and managed so that revenues produced by charging reasonable daily fees ($5 to $7 per visit) will cover both operating and capital costs.

The prototype FRC currently under consideration by a midwestern community will be a 212,000 square foot center for family recreation and community activities. Here families, kids and grandparents can come together for a variety of healthy activities which meet the needs and interests of every age group.

Upon arriving, visitors will enter the facility at the crossroads of its upper level galleria where they can view all the unfolding facilities of the recreation center on the level below, including:

* An aquatic leisure pool complex whose spacious decks, interior gardens and landscaping and elaborate natural rockscapes surround a seemingly endless variety of waterslides, warm-water pools, spas and wavepools.

* An Olympic training and competition aquatic facility with its 50-meter Olympic pool, ten-meter diving tower and tank, event seating, press facilities, changing rooms and administrative spaces.

* A fitness and wellness center incorporating a multipurpose gymnasium, aerobics and cardiovascular exercise facilities; weight equipment; free-weight circuit; a three-lane, banked, indoor running track; locker rooms and lounge.

* Restaurants, a snack bar and girl shops.

Grouped along the galleria at the upper level, will be special function multipurpose and community service space designed to broaden the base within the community that the recreation center serves. Facilities will include:

* A child-care/nursery with separate entrance and a dedicated child-scaled interior playground.

* A 400 fixed seat community theatre.

* Flexible meeting rooms for community and corporate group functions.

* A recreation center for teenagers.

* Multipurpose adult education facilities, including a media center and library.

* A senior citizen center.

* A restaurant.

* Administrative and support spaces.

Architecturally, the FRC is organized along the clerestory lighted gallerias that radiate outward from its entrance at 90 degrees to each other. From these gallerias, dramatic views open to the excitement of the leisure pools, water slides, fitness and wellness center, and Olympic competition center on the lower level. The bi-axial linear plan anticipates the phased addition of even more programs and facilities such as an ice skating rink, a sports medicine center or further expansion of the competition swim center.

The focal point of the center, the aquatic leisure center, features a transparent insulated and truss-supported roof to flood the center with daylight and allow UV rays to nourish plants and tan bathers. Within this environment, all water features are ozone purified and humidity is carefully controlled for comfort. …

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