Research shows that low income minority communities often lack access to good quality public facilities, including safe places to be physically active. In the African American community of Ft. Washington, MD, however, the 35,000 SF Southern Regional Technology & Recreation Complex sets a new benchmark for similar facilities throughout the region.
A primary goal in the planning and design of Tech Rec was to create an open and inviting space that encourages inclusiveness and fosters inter-generational interaction. A focus on flexibility and multiple options for the use of each space shaped the program, which includes a gymnasium, suspended indoor track, climbing wall, workout facilities, group exercise areas, multipurpose room, recording studio, kitchen, and classrooms.
The focal design element of Tech Rec is the sweeping arc of glass that characterizes its main façade. This multi-colored expanse reflects the surrounding neighborhood and is a testament to the community's participation and pride in bringing this project to fruition. To highlight this and to respect the residential context, the massing strategy shifts taller programmatic volumes to the rear of the site, while the lower-scale, concourse is situated street-facing.
The concourse as a concept to house much of the program of the building uncloaks active functions so they serve to activate the space and facade, adding transparency and welcoming the community inside. The creation of visual connections between the functional spaces within the concourse encourages users to try new program offerings and increases security. This is accomplished through the primary organizing element of the concourse - a gently curving steel stair. The perforated metal panel that clads this structure meanders through the concourse as a screen and defines, along with clear and opaque glass panels, areas for instruction and spaces for gathering within the larger open area. The result is a highly performing, innovative facility that will serve its community as it continues to grow and change for generations.