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Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego, CA by Colkitt & Co
May 14th, 2013 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Colkitt & Co
Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is an organization that provides inspiration, awareness, and mentoring so that physically challenged athletes are accepted and respected in the community. Their mission is to make sure people with physical challenges have the same freedom to enjoy sports as everyone else.
The Project: Originally a mundane commercial park building in Mira Mesa (San Diego), the space was reimagined and built into a mixing chamber for community events, workspace, and athletic activity. The space is alive with color and optimism, serving as a very meaningful place for the Challenged Athlete Foundation supporters to congregate, or for physically challenged athletes to play.
The Goal: Challenged Athletes Foundation had the goal of creating a space that was inviting to employees, athletes, and guests alike. Connectivity, through openness and relationships, was a major design goal. Whether with sight or light, the space is as open as possible without compromising usability. For example, the upper level is tethered to the lower level; the indoors connected with the outdoors; and the donors linked with the athletes. The goal was to have the inbetween spaces and walkways create moments of chance encounters.
Special Features: The building features an innovative facade and establishes a bold identity, while simultaneously allowing natural light to softly pepper the interior spaces. Internally, the weaving of both defined and undefined spaces forces interaction, yet playfully overlaps from room to room. This allows for flexibility of uses according to the changing needs of the facility, whether it is for recreation, work, or fundraising.
Exposed materials used in the renovation emphasize a sustainable approach, that maintains the natural beauty of the structure, including: wood trusses, joists, shear walls, and steel posts and beams. In addition, analogous with the athletes, the building was enhanced through new technologies.
1. How did you, as design professionals, creatively and respectfully address the need to improve quality of life?
Whether with sight or light, the space is as open as possible without compromising usability. For example, the upper level is tethered to the lower level; the indoors connected with the outdoors; the donors with the athletes; and people with light and air. The in‐between spaces create moments of chance encounters.
These transitional spaces become more important than defined spaces. With the elimination of corridors, spaces are forced to open onto each other and overlap activating an unseen intensity of social interaction. This engenders flexible spaces with multiple uses, routinely mapping the memories of new encounters between all who enter the building.
2. Describe the publicinterest or mission that was advanced?
The renovated building’s objective was to facilitate helping one athlete at a time. The building called for a place where all components of the organization can interact, including, spaces for donors to congregate, areas for disabled athletes to be celebrated, and sections for the facilitating team to provide support.
Universal design was executed in such a way as to make every space accessible to all, not only physically accessible, but also visually accessible and barrier free. CAF had the goal of creating a space that was as inviting and welcoming as anyone’s own home might feel.
The renovation of the building became an act of rehabilitation; finding new uses in the existing context, and maximizing the value of the content. Akin to the body of a disabled athlete, the existing building was an imperfect building. Like a prosthetic, technology was used to heal and enhance the building performance, synthesizing the old and new. The buildings are sited in a business park. In fact, they were all developed around the same period for the same purpose of creating leasable office space. The challenge was to create a unique home in the anonymous surroundings of an office park. We designed CAF to overcome the mundane through the use of transparency, color, light, and graphics.
3. What is the bottom line impact to the community or user group, and what will be the lasting positive effect from these efforts?
Transforming a mundane, mirrored office building into an iconic structure, the Challenges Athletes Center changed the nature of the entire office park. The building features an innovative facade and establishes a bold identity, while simultaneously allowing natural light to softly pepper the interior spaces. Internally, the weaving of spaces, undefined at times, forces interaction yet playfully overlaps, allowing flexibility of uses according to the changing needs of the facility whether it is for sports, recreation, or fundraising. This remarkable exterior transformation allows the building to stand out and creates a fresh identity for CAF.
4. What are the environmental and social sustainability components to the project or practice?
We work hard to use, celebrate, and elevate everyday, offtheshelf materials. Some of today’s principal green technology is found throughout the space dubbing it LEED certified. Recycled materials from the previous building create the furniture in the new facility. Recycled carpet and wheat board were utilized for the cabinets. The project also contains energy efficient mechanical systems so that throughout the day, 100% of the lighting for each larger space and office is provided through donated solar tubes.
The structure was dematerialized through camouflage, a mapping strategy that distorts an existing geometry, in effect losing form. By devaluing the existing geometry, the presentation and expectations of CAF were changed. The front facade is the first impression people get of challenged athletes, and it’s an opportunity to really project the essence of the foundation outward and draw people in. The essence is unity and creating a whole. The existing structure is our support system. Built of wood trusses, joists, shear walls, steel posts, steel diagonal bracing, and a slab on grade, the renovation emphasizes a sustainable approach maintaining the natural beauty of the structure.
5. What percentage, if any, of the work was completed on a pro bono and/or reduced fee basis?
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