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Carla Madison Recreation Center

Denver, CO
Construction Cost: $3 Million
Area / Square Feet: 7,606
Occupancy Date: January 2018


The Carla Madison Recreation Center was aimed at serving the community of central Denver, including young families, after-school kids, high school swim teams and young professionals.

The design stayed on budget, and cost savings were realized by limiting the use of tile, using drywall in the natatorium and incorporating pops of color for the finishes.


A small site footprint determined a five-level vertical design with the gymnasium located above the pool. The design strives to act as a portal to the city park and the residential neighborhood to the north and south. The street level of the building was angled away from the main street, Colfax Avenue, opening a view of East High School and city landmarks to encourage pedestrian flow through the neighborhood. The theme was determined by the urban environment along Colfax Avenue, the longest continuous street in the nation.


Structurally stacking a gymnasium on top of the aquatics due to the density of the site was an added challenge. The public process involved the City of Denver political factions, stakeholders and the diverse community. Listening to concerns, hopes and dreams was important to gathering insights for design. The goals and mission were set by the community, and these included keeping an existing dog park on the site.