Designers: PenMet Facility Won’t Just Be Another Cookie-Cutter Recreation Center – Gig Harbor Now

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Community sports

The Peninsula’s Metropolitan Parks District previewed the design evolution of its community recreation center during a virtual open house last week.

Kevin Armstrong and Connie Osborn of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture said they stick to four design threads spun off a year ago by designers, a steering committee, staff, board members and the audience – malleable, rhythm, interflow and stewardship. The installation will be guided by and reflect the area around it, they said, in connection with the nature and culture of the Gig Harbor region.

Sketch of the main entrance to the future PenMet Parks Community Recreation Center. Courtesy of PenMet Parks

“We see them as tools to ensure that we respectively build your culture, your community, your architectural history,” Osborn said. …”not just another cookie-cutter recreation center.”

The facility will be built on the former Performance Golf Center’s 17-acre property along Highway 16 that PenMet purchased in 2019 for $4.3 million. The district on Dec. 7 approved a total expenditure of $31.6 million for it and has budgeted $23.7 million for it this year.

The first phase will consist of renovating the existing building, which should be completed next summer. It will house administrative offices.

The second phase will be a new 58,300 square foot building containing an indoor grass soccer/football field, three multi-purpose gymnasium courts, an elevated walking/jogging track and spaces for community gatherings. The construction schedule has not been established. The cost includes $24.3 million for construction, $4.3 million for architectural, engineering, consulting and permitting costs, $1.9 million for sales taxes and $1.1 million for contingencies.

Sketch of the PenMet Parks Community Recreation Center viewed from the north with the existing Performance Golf building in the background.

Sketch of the PenMet Parks Community Recreation Center viewed from the north with the existing Performance Golf Center building in the background. Courtesy of PenMet Parks

A large activity lawn will separate the old and new buildings, giving off a campus feel. A wide sidewalk will sweep the grass up to a warm and friendly front entrance.

“We try to create a great experience as soon as you come to the site,” Armstrong said. “…The intention with this is to create a pleasant and easily understood architectural language, so if you come to the project for the first time, you know where to go.”

After entering the building, visitors will walk through a welcoming lobby to a reception desk from where they will have an unobstructed view of the entire facility. An intermediate circulation zone will connect the pitch, the courts and the halls. Stairs and an elevator will ascend to an elevated track. A bank of windows will allow Cushman Trail users to see inside and give those inside a sense of the outdoors.

former performance golf building

PenMet purchased the former Performance Golf Center building and the property it sits on for $4.3 million in 2019. Ed Friedrich / Gig Harbor Now

The recreation center rises to 40 feet, but is not visible from the street due to the taller existing trees. The large volume of the building is reduced by reinforcement in horizontal strips, one of which consists of vertical wooden planks on the lower level.

“We seek to achieve a connection with the northwest (with the woods) and the introduction of vertical elements to link to the verticality of the natural landscape,” Osborn said.

Listeners online suggested a direct connection from the recreation center to Cushman Trail, wondered if there would be any children’s areas, recommended using permeable pavement, asked if there would be soccer fields outdoors and whether there would be non-traditional sports such as lawn bowling, rock climbing and a spray park. These issues will all be considered later in the design process, the architects said, adding that the facility’s expansion potential is factored into the plans.

Interior design of the future community recreation center of PenMet Parks.

Interior design of the future community recreation center of PenMet Parks. Courtesy of PenMet Parks

A person asks if the activities of the elderly will be limited to two community halls.

“The community recreation center is designed for everyone,” replied PenMet executive director Ally Bujacich. “Community spaces can be used for a variety of things. The entire space is intended to be versatile for all users. She added that the borough is conducting a separate feasibility study for this project for a seniors’ space and an aquatic center.

A 153-page feasibility, conceptual design and proforma report can be viewed here.

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