Scope: Rather than renovate a dated facility that had previously seen several unsuccessful upgrades, the design team proposed a more sustainable solution by constructing a new community center as part of the Hilltop redevelopment. This modern facility would support the needs of the community in ways that a renovated existing structure simply could not, and would serve as an anchor for the redevelopment of the Hilltop community.
A relatively modest budget of $12 million as well as siting the facility on a dramatically sloped site proved challenging. However, the opportunity to significantly improve the state of the community’s recreation center more than outweighed any challenges faced by the design and development teams.
For the community, this new facility offers a rock climbing wall, indoor basketball court, extensive fitness center, an indoor/outdoor pool, and vastly improved daycare and aerobics studios within the new 44,000 SF structure.
Sustainable strategies include: Presently, this project anticipates LEED-NC Gold certification. The design process was interactive and collaborative to ensure that sustainability concepts were fully explored and developed. Water efficient plumbing fixtures were utilized, including low flow toilets, showers and sinks. The need for irrigation was completely eliminated by installing native drought tolerant plantings.
Results of the energy model indicate that the building is 32% more efficient than a building designed to meet ASHRAE minimum energy requirements. This equates to approximately $63,000/year in reduced gas and electric utility costs. Energy savings are achieved by more efficient lighting and HVAC energy use reduction through more efficient equipment, heat recovery, an enhanced building envelope, and building solar orientation.
Innovative strategies: To encourage users to walk or bike, racks were installed and the need for parking spaces minimized. On days that a large event requires additional parking, the adjacent Government Center is used for overflow parking. Large events at the Roger Carter Recreation Community Center occur mainly on weekends when the Government Center parking requirements are minimal. This overlapping of uses is an effective way to reduce impervious coverage created by parking spaces that sit empty all but a few days of the year. Use of light colored concrete surfaces in lieu of asphalt, a white roof, and some green planting all help to reduce urban heat island effect. Additionally, light pollution is reduced by cut-off fixtures and low pole lighting.
Further efficiencies were achieved by a creative ‘double duty’ design of the pool which enables the indoor pool to double as an outdoor pool in the summer. To achieve this, the pool is contained within an aluminum structure with an operable polycarbonate roof, bifold glass doors, and glazed walls. While maintaining an outdoor experience that summertime pool patrons seek, this design approach eliminates the need to have any cooling in the pool area thus creating significant savings in both first costs and operational costs.
Notable considerations and achievements: By focusing on construction waste recycling, an 85% diversion rate from landfill was achieved. The building’s steel structure contributed to a significant recycled content for new construction materials. In consideration of the environmental impact of transportation, other building materials were carefully selected to ensure recycled content, extraction and manufacturing within 500 miles of the site, thus supporting green building considerations.
A total of 53% of the materials in the building met the 500 mile criteria and they contained a total value of 27% recycled content. Best practices were followed during construction to maintain good indoor air quality and prior to occupancy, the building was flushed with fresh air so that users were not exposed to any construction contaminants. Glazing was optimized to take advantage of solar orientation and to enhance the user’s experience of the building and reduce the need for electric lighting.
Other key sustainable features: Strongly integrating the RCRCC into the community was a key sustainable feature. While located within a walkable, mixed-income community, the RCRCC has not only become a community anchor, but one also for the surrounding communities. The redesign of the Roger Carter Recreation Community Center within the Hilltop community was an intentional decision to encourage surrounding communities to utilize the facility, visit the Hilltop neighborhood and to break apart previously held misconceptions of low-income public housing complexes creating a socially sustainable solution.
Awarded the 2013 Wintergreen Award - Excellence in Green Building by the US Green Building Council - Maryland Chapter