Breaking The Silence

In fall 2006, the Parks and Recreation Department of DeKalb County, Ga., decided to build three community centers for residents, but there was just one problem--the department had not built a new facility in more than 20 years.

With the help of a local project management company, Silverman Construction Management, and a construction manager,Brasfield & Gorrie, the department set out to hire three firms to design the facilities.

Lose & Associates, a landscape architecture, architecture and civil engineering firm from Nashville, Tenn., was awarded the Redan Recreation Center project. Located in the eastern part of the county, the recreation center is a 23,000-square-foot facility within Redan Park. The park, with tennis courts, a Frisbee disc-golf course and softball and football fields, is heavily used. Lose was asked to master-plan the project with the following criteria:

• Provide connectivity for pedestrian circulation to the various amenities, with a series of future paved- and wood-chip walking trails

• Provide a dock for the existing pond

• Design a new recreation center, site development and parking accommodations.

Primary concern for the project was three-fold: to work within a limited, fixed budget; to design a project for a client without a current history of development; and to provide a finished product that is durable and environmentally responsible.Ultimately, the county noted an immediate need and desire for the recreation center, so that became the priority. Sadly, this meant that the dock and planned trails are now considered future-phase development.

Feedback And Input

Since this was going to be the first of three recreation centers to be built, extra time was spent meeting with county maintenance workers, youth-sports providers and the planning department to make sure everyone understood how the facility was intended to operate. The public was also included in discussions to ensure facility programming was meeting the community’s needs.

It was determined that building security--both inside and out--was a high priority for staff members and patrons. Strategic locations for staff members, site lines, operating hardware, window placement and entry/egress points were all considered through various scenarios until the owner was comfortable with the facility. In the end, the center was designed with a central reception desk to maintain direct visual and casual observation of the gymnasium, lobby, three main entrances, game rooms and second-floor lounge.

Sustainable Mindset

Although this project was not slated to pursue LEED or Green Globes certification, a conservative and ecologically responsible approach was taken for the building envelope and utility-service design. When an energy model was performed on the facility design, it was estimated to operate 5-percent more efficiently than a comparable facility. This was achieved with only conventional building components and thoughtful design, which include:

• Gas-fired package HVAC units, ground- and roof-mounted

• Single-width CMU walls with core insulation on the first floor

• Metal stud and EIFS sheathing for second-story exterior walls

• Strategically placed roof overhangs

• White TPO single-ply membrane roofing on 3 inches of rigid insulation roof decking

• Integral daylight and occupant sensors for the automated lighting-control package

• Use of fluorescent and LED light fixtures when applicable

• Low-flow toilet fixtures, sinks and instantaneous water heaters

• Low-VOC interior paint for ceilings and walls and low-VOC millwork and adhesives

• Double-pane, gas-filled, tinted aluminum windows and storefront systems, which offer ample natural day lighting to almost every building function.

Minimizing Maintenance

The facility also was requested to be designed in a durable manner that can withstand heavy use by the public, yet require light maintenance by staff members and the facilities department. All public areas on the first floor have painted CMU walls for constant contact with epoxy paint in the concessions and restroom facilities. Where gypsum board is within public reach, high-abuse gypsum sheathing is provided, which boasts a thicker craft-paper facing to take the general bumps and bruises from periodic contact. Access to the HVAC units for servicing is made simple as they are placed within a gated yard on the ground or located on the first-story roof and accessible through the second-story restrooms. Access is provided through the female restroom as well to accommodate female mechanical technicians. No mechanical units are provided on the second-story roof.

Introducing Redan To The Community

On June 1, 2010, the recreation center opened to the community two months ahead of schedule for summer-camp activities and general use by the surrounding neighborhoods. The official grand opening was held on July 10, 2010. Amenities include:

• A full hardwood-floor gymnasium with six retractable basketball goals and telescoping bleacher seating

• An elevated walking track above the gymnasium

• A fitness room with locker-room facilities

• A large game room for the youth, which includes a long concrete-bench seat wall

• Child-watch facility with dedicated restroom

• Multi-purpose dance room with hardwood floors, mirrors and ballet bars

• An arts and crafts room with a pottery kiln

• Multi-purpose and dividable meeting rooms

• A computer lab with eight stations.

Matthew Cramer , AIA, LEED AP is a project manager at Lose & Associates in Nashville, Tenn. He can be reached via e-mail at mcramer@loseassoc.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information on the firm, visit