Populous designs Aurora’s Central Recreation Center

The facility features both small- and large-scale innovative elements, finishes and patterns, such as wall coverings, mosaic tile design, lighting and the fully integrated public art installation.

Central Recreation Center, a new recreation center in Aurora, debuted as the city’s first new recreation center in 40 years. Designed by Populous, and a thorough public input process, the $34 million, 61,250-square-foot facility is located in the heart of Aurora.

Three public meetings were held, drawing over 200 community members each time and allowing them to express their opinions and give feedback on the design and programming activities. This input served as the basis of design for the state-of-the-art facility, resulting in one of the most prominent displays of integrated art in a U.S. recreation center, and a first-of-its-kind wave pool and interactive slide.

“The community was at the heart of this project,” said Gudmundur Jonsson, Populous principal-in-charge on the project. “We designed the building with the goal of cross promoting activities, making them visible throughout the center. This design allows visitors to customize their own experience, and increases user involvement across the facility.”

Drawing inspiration from the concept of movement, energy and water, the facility features both small- and large-scale innovative elements, finishes and patterns, such as wall coverings, mosaic tile design, lighting and the fully integrated public art installation. The building was designed to accommodate this art, seamlessly integrating the pieces to align with the overarching theme of movement and energy.

First-of-its-kind offerings include a wave pool, and waterslide with interactive videos that allow visitors to customize their waterslide experience to various themes, the first in North America. The facility also features a gymnasium, natatorium, two fitness studios, a fitness grandstand, indoor track, cooking and catering kitchen and an escape room. It’s also home to two community meeting rooms and party rooms. Flexible outdoor spaces, including an outdoor fitness balcony with visual connections to the mountain range, offer outdoor fitness classes, including sunrise and sunset yoga. There is a second, rentable, outdoor patio on the ground level with grills and space for private parties.

Published in the July 3-16, 2019, issue of CREJ.

Kris Oppermann Stern is publisher and editor of Building Dialogue, a Colorado Real Estate Journal publication, and editor of CREJ's construction, design, and engineering section, including news and bylined articles. Building Dialogue is a quarterly, four-color magazine that caters specifically to the AEC industry, including features on projects and people, as well as covering trends…