Merriam Community Center 

Merriam, Kansas
Construction Cost: $30 million
Area / Square Feet: 66,000 SF
Occupancy Date: July 2020

The residents of Merriam had long awaited the replacement of an aging community center that had exhausted its useable life. The site chosen was a former outdoor pool within a park, but the context consisted of big-box retail neighbors along a busy highway. Through a process of design storytelling with the client and community, the design team arrived at an inwardly focused solution building on a wonderful courtyard, where interior activities could look onto a rich environment of community gathering rather than outward to blank walls. The resulting architecture uses textured precast panels and glazing to distinguish interior activities and unify the community center and parking structure on site. 

The angular plan of the courtyard and slashed openings reflect the original concept of a geode — crystalline on the interior and rugged on the exterior. Activities are linked through a visually open network of gathering spaces, connecting uses both functionally and visually. 

The sloped site allowed the entry to occur on the upper level, accessing spaces such as the community gallery, meeting rooms, youth activities and fitness center. Once visitors descend to the lower level, they reach the gymnasium courts, locker rooms and indoor pool that also connects to a large outdoor aquatic complex. This organization allowed for clear delineation of community and recreational spaces, but also presented clear wayfinding and visual connection of uses. 

Now that the facility is operational, patrons can take full advantage of the indoor and outdoor activities, and the courtyard has become a beloved community gathering space hosting events throughout the year.


Clark Enerson

Kansas City, Mo.



Denver, Colo.


Aquatic Design Group

Carlsbad, Calif.


Pools - Chemical Control Systems

BECS Technology Inc.

Locker/Shower - Lockers

Commercial Building Specialties

Locker/Shower - Shower/Toilet Partitions

Commercial Building Specialties

Pools - Lane Markers

Competitor Swim

Gymnasium/Field House/Arena - Lighting


Pools - Dehumidifiers

Desert Aire

Pools - Cleaners/Vacuums


Pools - Diving Boards


Pools - Lighting

J&J Electronics, Inc.

Pools - Filtration Systems

Knorr Systems Inc.

Pools - Heaters

Lochinvar Heaters

Pools - Deck/Basin Surface

Pebble Technology International/Daltile/Inlays Inc.

Gymnasium/Field House/Arena - Basketball Backboards/Supports

Porter Athletic

Gymnasium/Field House/Arena - Volleyball Nets and Standards

Porter Athletic

Gymnasium/Field House/Arena - Wall Padding

Porter Athletic

Pools - Sanitization Systems


Pools - Access Ramps/Stairs

Spectrum Aquatics

Pools - Ladders/Grab Bars

Spectrum Aquatics

Pools - Starting Blocks

Spectrum Aquatics

Locker/Shower - Flooring


Fitness Center - Flooring, Aerobics

Tarkett Sports

Fitness Center - Flooring, Fitness Center

Tarkett Sports

Indoor Sports Surfaces - Basketball

Tarkett Sports

Indoor Sports Surfaces - Track

Tarkett Sports

Indoor Sports Surfaces - Volleyball

Tarkett Sports

Fitness Center - Free-Weight Equipment

Tarkett/Image Flooring

Fitness Center - Strength Equipment

Tarkett/Image Flooring

Pools - Water Play Features

Water Odyssey by Fountain People 

Pools - Water Play Features

Water Play Solutions Corp. 

Pools - Gutters

Westport Pools