Key Considerations When Building A New Community Center

Community Centers are often the heart of a city, town or neighborhood. They are intentionally and specifically designed to be focal points for citizens and a pillar of pride for the local community. Naturally, it is important that community centers meet the expectations of the local community as they are often funded by tax dollars.

Here are three items to consider when building your new community center:

1. Understanding the Community Need

The planning process and design objectives for community centers have evolved beyond just accommodating assignable square footage of formal program elements such as racquetball courts, cardio areas, fitness studios, lockers, etc.

Architects and city officials should engage local community early to understand the true needs and wants of a community center. Through interviews with elected officials, community open house meetings and constituent surveys, designers are gathering as much input as possible to ensure the recreation center meets the local expectations.

Once the input has been collected and evaluated, successful project teams take this data and leverage it using an Integrated Design Approach. Integrated design combines design excellence with site knowledge, strategic material selections and construction method expertise to maximize efficiencies and meet the community need.

A foundational principle of integrated design is early engagement of all team members. Working together from the beginning, the owner, design team, construction manager, key subcontractors and vendors allows the team to prioritize planning and design elements to meet the objectives of a highly-functioning and cost-effective building.

2. Selecting the Right Construction Manager

In addition to delivering a safe and successful project, the right Construction Managers can provide designers and cities with helpful insight throughout the project to maximize budgets and expedite schedules.

Construction managers bring knowledge of local market costs that can guide design and are often invaluable in moving a project forward. McCownGordon also has vast experience in delivering projects where the community needs to support funding, such as when a tax is on the ballot or a bond is in play.

The right construction manager will provide accurate and reliable cost information which is essential to community projects. No city official wants to have to explain to constituents that the project that was approved is no longer attainable because the estimated budget was wrong.

The construction manager is also responsible for keeping the project on schedule and delivering the final project to the publicly communicated deadline. This is where identifying long-lead items, materials or equipment is crucial.

Early engagement of all team members, particularly the construction manager, will have a positive impact on the building process, budget and schedule of a community center.

3. Consulting Experts for Specialized Features (Aquatics)

Modern community centers often include specialized features or amenities – most commonly, aquatic centers. The construction process for a natatorium or aquatics center is complex involving close tolerances on flooring, concrete flatness and dryness, humidity control in the HVAC systems and much more. When including a natatorium in a community center, special consideration and expertise should be provided to successfully execute some of the key components of these structures including:

  • Pool Shell – Material selection such as cast-in-place concrete, gunnite/shotcrete or stainless steel
  • Coatings – High performance and vapor barriers
  • Equipment – Filters and disinfection
  • HAVC System

McCownGordon has completed over $200 million in community aquatic centers and is an expert in coordinating with the necessary vendors to deliver successful aquatic centers.

The decision to move forward with a community center is a significant one that involves many stakeholders and possibly millions of public dollars. You want to be confident that you have done your due diligence and will deliver your community an exception recreation center.

McCownGordon has completed nearly $900 million in civic projects over the last ten years. Our team is ready to help you deliver the best recreational center to your community.

Contact our team today