East Oakland’s ailing community was recently given the gift of a state-of-the-art recreation center, introducing a multitude of sports and health activities for people to enjoy, and safe place for children to play. The LEED Silver project, designed by ELS Architects and Urban Design, rests on a site originally set aside for a 2012 Olympics venue that San Francisco placed (and eventually lost) a bid for. However, the community was undeterred by the outcome, and through creative financing and determination, they now have a bright, airy, and eco-friendly 25,000 square foot center hosting an aquatic center, aerobics and fitness facilities, and an education and media center.
The Sports Center, which opened in July in Oakland’s Ira Jinkins Park, is in the heart of one of the Bay Area’s hardest hit neighborhoods. Cut off both physically and economically from the thriving region, the new center is an important resource for local families.
The complex is the first phase of an ambitious recreation center that will become a regional magnet. The standout feature is the recreational pool tucked inside a glass building that overlooks the park and main street. The design is transparent in order to connect with the community, and provides an added level of security to the grounds. All publicly funded projects in Oakland are mandated to be a minimal LEED Silver rating — they are one of the first cities in the nation to require this.
While the pool is solar thermal heated, and the expansive glass works well in the mild climate, other interior spaces are carefully shaded to reduce cooling loads. Stormwater is cleaned and absorbed by bioswells that also add much needed greenscape. Future plans are to replace the existing, defunct rec center and to add a competition pool, indoor basketball courts with a suspended running track, and soccer and baseball fields.
Photos © David Wakely