This week, global design company Populous and the City of Aurora celebrate the grand opening of Southeast Aurora’s 77,000-square-foot recreation center and field home at 25400 E Alexander Dr.
Populous was selected to design the recreation center and field home to respect, celebrate and participate in its site while meeting the necessary requirements of operational efficiency, cost-effective design and, most importantly, community improvement. The project also features the city’s first indoor field home. The project is the second recreation center built for the city in over 40 years – Populous also led the design of Aurora’s central recreation center, which won the 2019 Engineering News-Record Best of the Best Sports/Entertainment Project.
“This new recreation center and field home is a stunning example of a community property built to reflect, encourage and showcase its people and landscape,” said Gudmundur Jonsson, Senior Architect and Principal at Populous. “The city of Aurora now has another cost-effective and operationally efficient space that allows it to continue to serve its community.”
The center’s design was influenced by and takes advantage of the location’s stunning views. Upon arrival, the center emerges from the landscape. Using resources such as natural Douglas fir structure and decking, the structure mimics the geography of a canyon, with a grand open entrance that runs the length of the building, drawing visitors into the canyon and a sweeping, unobstructed view of the canyon through a glass curtain wall offers Rocky Mountains, from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak.
The design uses natural light throughout the space with glass walls providing views of different areas such as the basketball courts. Additionally, “Florescence,” a public artwork by Project One Studio’s Adam Buente, extends from the entrance to the opposite curtain wall. The teams at Populous and Project One Studio worked together to combine impressions of Aurora’s community with the architecture of the space, creating space for a piece that mimics Aurora’s landscape of human activity and the natural world, while also representing the diversity of its community .
An elevated running track extends from inside the gym, into the canyon entrance and along the curtain wall, incorporating elevation changes throughout the loop. The path symbolizes a journey through the terrain and offers a unique movement experience.
The fitness area includes a patio and a garage door that opens to outdoor exercise areas and further connects to the landscape. In addition to the gym, running track, and other outdoor fitness areas, the recreation center features a field house, pools, common areas, various indoor exercise areas, and lounges, creating a space for all residents.