The majority of residents in Clifton/Morenci are employed by Freeport-McMoRan, owner of the Morenci Mine, the largest copper mining operation in North America. As its mining and milling operations continue to expand, Freeport-McMoRan sought to contribute to the quality of life in the area and provide increased community recreation amenities. The new Morenci Community Center, funded completely by Freeport-McMoRan, anchors a new Town Center that includes a theater, library, Morenci Club and daycare facility.
The center includes a warm-water pool and access to an existing outdoor lap pool. In addition to the aquatic elements, an array of fitness and multipurpose spaces were also included in the program. Social and activity spaces are organized and visually connected along a two-story daylight-filled circulation spine with views from the lobby and aquatics area to the fitness and climbing area.
The design was inspired by the colors of the high desert and pays homage to the copper mine at Morenci and its history. The entry feature and iconic landmark for the building is a very large heavy-timber headframe — the structural frame above an underground mine shaft. Copper was used as a color and material throughout the facility.