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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay 

  • Architects: Colkitt & Co
  • Project: Challenged Athletes Foundation
  • Location: 9591 Waples St San Diego, CA 92121, USA
  • Photography: Cheryl Ramsay
  • Project Owner/Developer: Challenged Athletes Foundation
  • Ribbon Cutting Ceremony: February 2011
  • Awards: SDAF 2011 ”Orchid” Winner for Adaptive Reuse
  • Collaborators: Hollis Brand Culture ­ All environmental graphics, branding, interactive exhibits and signage.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

Additional Information

1. How did you, as design professionals, creatively and respectfully address the need to improve quality of life?
We addressed the need to improve quality of life for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) by weaving together spaces for the challenged athletes, donors, and CAF team members. Our goal was to bind these users together, encouraging lasting relationships and interactions in a very special, uplifting place. Connectivity, through openness and relationships, was a major design goal.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

2. Describe the public­interest or mission that was advanced?
Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) exists to get people back into the game of life, one challenged athlete at a time. Our mission therefore, was to create an uplifting environment to foster that goal for the athlete, donor, or team member’s body, mind, and spirit. CAF offers athlete funding, access to performance enhancing prostheses, skill development, and peer mentoring through innovative programs.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

3. What is the bottom line impact to the community or user group, and what will be the lasting positive effect from these efforts?
Much like the dynamic athletes the space hosts and represents, the Deni & Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athlete’s Center shines in its humble environment. The building transcends its original intent to become both an inspiration to those who work and visit the building, as well as an enhancement to its surroundings.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

4. What are the environmental and social sustainability components to the project or practice?
As an adaptive reuse project, sustainability was a primary focus in both the empirical goals that exceed all energy and fresh environmental standards, but also highly open interior and indoor/outdoor spaces to foster a long term, socially connected, versatile space. With such a unique client like CAF, it was critical to emote the essence of their goals and vision on a non­profit budget. While budget in all projects is a constraint, it was also important for us to present a humble environment for this non­profit organization.

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.

Image Courtesy © Cheryl Ramsay

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.

Image courtesy Colkitt & Co

5. What percentage, if any, of the work was completed on a pro bono and/or reduced fee basis?
Everyone gave, not to celebrate themselves, but to celebrate life and the athletes. Many designers, consultants, contractors, vendors, members of the CAF team, and donors, (ourselves alike) donated countless hours to this project. Additional donation highlights include: Sony generously donated video equipment; Matrix donated every single piece of workout and gym equipment; Herman Miller provided a generous discount; the famous Decibel Dave, sound man for the Grateful Dead, donated the rockin’ audio system and supervised the install; and Bill Walton was instrumental in donating his time on many parts of the building including the landscaping.

Image courtesy Colkitt & Co

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