Firstenburg Community Center

Vancouver, WA
Construction Cost: $17 million
Area / Square Feet: 80,000
Occupancy Date: February 2006

Located on a 10-acre parcel featuring a remnant, second-growth forest of 80-year-old Douglas firs, the Firstenburg Community Center represents “a tour de force of sustainability,” as one panelist put it. The center’s one-story community wing features places for group activities and socializing organized along a main circulation spine. Upstairs, a glass-encased exercise pavilion forms an entrance loggia that, at night, functions as an illuminated billboard of activity. Behind, the high-bay recreation volume houses the gymnasium and natatorium, and features an undulating roofline that optimizes natural ventilation and echoes the contour of the surrounding forest. The recreation wing’s corrugated zincaluminum exterior further complements the dark backdrop of trees.

In pursuit of LEED® Gold certification, designers employed numerous greenbuilding strategies, including the specification of recycled and renewable materials such as bamboo and wheatboard. While the site’s significant tree stands were preserved, diseased or weak trees were milled and re-integrated into the project. Thus, exposed wood finishes not only bear a distinctly regional character, they also create a direct connection to the site.

Judge's Comments

The exterior expression masterfully plays simple solid and transparent surfaces against each other, not only articulating the interior function but also providing a restrained energy to the building.
— Tom Betti

Excellent use of green materials and a solid, sustainable approach to recreation facilities.
— Dave Hammel

The daylighting and layering of space is quite beautiful, and the level of integration of sustainable features demonstrates that sustainable design can be successfully applied to public recreation projects.
— Tom Scarlata