Excelsior Springs Community Center was recognized for Design Excellence in Interior Architecture in recent AIA design awards programs. The project was honored with a Merit Award from AIA Central States Region and a Citation Award from AIA Kansas City.
The interior architecture is derived from a pivotal decision by the design team to leverage the steeply, undulating site (rather than flatten it) to create a dynamic, multi-level center. By placing programmatic elements down the hillside, a ramped circulation ‘spine’ was created connecting all spaces within the center and acting as an extended exercise path. This path provides visual connection to all activity areas free of obstructions and barriers. Additionally, the circulation ramp provides spatial organization – dividing the project into four different quadrants: The East being the public side – with restrooms, community rooms, kitchen and child watch; the South housing the natatorium, party rooms and locker rooms; the West housing a side entry, aerobics, racquetball court and mechanical rooms; and the North quadrant housing the jogging track and gymnasium with a close adjacency to administration.
With a clear mandate from the client to make the facility like no other around, the design team responded with an interior design concept that is clean, inviting, fun, and unique in character. Rather than hide the building systems, the decision was made to celebrate their contributions to the building’s architecture and purpose. Each building system and activity zone is assigned a particular color which aids in the wayfinding efforts for this multi-floored facility. The selected color scheme was inspired by the palette often discovered in nature – specifically sky and water. Materials were kept light and to a minimum. Super graphics were provided at select areas to provide visual impact. These efforts, along with an abundance of natural light, a unique circulation system, and a dynamic sense of space, provide an environment that is delightful to all.