Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leave It Better: Fitting in with Nature; a Recreation Facility Is Built with a Small Footprint and a Big Impact

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Leave It Better: Fitting in with Nature; a Recreation Facility Is Built with a Small Footprint and a Big Impact

Article excerpt

Project:

The Firstenburg Community Center, Vancouver, Wash.

Problem:

According to Vicki Vanneman, director of the center, the City of Vancouver annexed a portion of adjoining Clark County in 1997, effectively doubling Vancouver's size. After annexation, the newly-acquired east side of the city lacked park and recreation facilities, leaving residents with amenities like a swimming pool that was a 20-minute drive to the other side of Vancouver.

Solution:

The first order of business was to build more parks on the east side of the city. "The second effort was to begin planning a recreation facility out on the east side so that public recreation services could be provided," Vanneman says. But the steering committee, composed of citizens and representatives of many interested businesses and organizations, had specific goals concerning environmental impacts. "They wanted the building to fit in with the community at large and with the environment--the green infrastructure that was already in place," she says. "The architects [Portland's Opsis Architecture] were very supportive of that and were real believers in sustainable design."

Design:

Aspects of the building that are considered "sustainable" include its location among existing woodlands and its energy-efficient construction, which will save the park district more than 30 percent in utility costs during the life of the building. Many of the building materials are creatively nature-conscious, such as benches made from wood reclaimed from the few trees the center displaced, or the flooring made from flaxseed oil. …

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