Richardson Gymnastics Center; Heights Recreation and Family Aquatic Centers

Richardson, TX
Construction Cost: $13.4 million
Area / Square Feet: 52,840
Occupancy Date: May 2013

A first-ring metropolitan suburb of Dallas, Richardson saw its population boom occur during the 1960s and ’70s. Now Richardson finds itself upgrading and replacing its aging infrastructure, including a focus on quality of life projects for its citizens. This project represents the re-creation of the city’s first recreation center and pool.

The original Heights Recreation Center housed the city’s popular gymnastics program, whose success had largely taken over the center over time. The new gymnastics site is only two miles away, but in a completely different context. The municipally operated gymnastics program now enjoys a freestanding purpose-built facility tailored specifically to its use. Project design was driven by a respect for Richardson’s mid-century modernist roots, but with great care to also be contemporary and relevant.

Instead of replacing building components where they stood, the new recreation center began construction where the pool used to be, with the new pool at a new location on the site. This reconfiguring maximized site utilization and improved circulation and safety, while reducing downtime at the rec center to four months and at the pool to only one season.

The design response is sympathetic and compatible to its light-commercial surroundings, but also raises the bar in quality and appeal compared to its neighbors. The city sought to create an example for future development, showing what can be done with inexpensive construction methods such as tilt-wall. The building takes advantage of northern light, slightly rotated in plan to present itself to the street intersection.