July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
Located on Peninsular Downtown Charleston, the Arthur Christopher Community Center recently received LEED Gold Certification by the Green Building Certification Institute. This is the first LEED certified project completed by Thomas & Denzinger and one of the first LEED certified facilities for the City of Charleston.
This community center is a 24,000sf multi-use recreational facility adjacent to an existing, public swimming pool complex and various outdoor playfields. In addition to housing indoor recreation spaces, the building acts a central “hub” accommodating various neighborhood and community-wide activities such as summer camps, educational programs, and recreational tournaments.
The design of the building responds to its contextual setting by developing a strong central axis with the existing pool structure which is established by the entry sequence into the building. The strong emphasis of this axis begins with the raised entrance platform with its translucent fabric screens bounding the entrance porch and the fully glazed entrance lobby tucked into the masonry building’s corner. The lobby also serves as the transition into the gallery. The gallery, which is on axis with the pool and pool building, is lit from above through translucent panels and stretches the length of the recreational facility. The focal point of the view from within the gallery is toward the pool and pool building, whose wall beyond is emphasized with a strong, primary accent color.
This procession of spaces, enclosed and open, establishes a visual and aesthetic relationship between the two buildings. The floor plan is organized starting from this gallery axis with two interior zones of smaller, mostly service spaces through which there is access to the primary spaces. Larger, recreational use spaces are located north and south of the gallery spine. A multipurpose room and fitness room, both north of the gallery, have large storefront glass along the north elevation to allow natural daylight into these spaces. The gymnasium space, south of the gallery spine, has clerestory windows used in conjunction with a roof overhang lining its perimeter, which allows daylight in while protecting the glass against heat gain.
Overall the design of the building, informed by an axial relationship with the existing pool structure, reflects a play between mass and different layers of lightness. The language of this interaction is achieved by the juxtapositions of massive brick volumes that are in turn punctuated with expanses of storefront glass, linear runs of translucent panels, and the insertion of the steel frame and fabric panel entry.