Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture of Denver was recently honored with an Aquatics International Dream Designs award for its design of The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Salem, Ore. According to the Aquatics International website, “the Dream Designs showcase is an annual program that highlights extraordinary aquatics facility design projects.”

Photo courstesy of BRS Architects
The 91,500-sq-ft community center represents part of the program initiated by a $1.8-billion gift from the late Joan Kroc, wife of McDonalds founder Ray Kroc.

The Dream Designs program considers such factors as the incorporation of sustainable technology and/or equipment, creative use of materials, design highlights and aesthetic, how aquatic elements are integrated into the facility, and budget. To be eligible for Dream Designs award consideration, projects must have been new construction completed within the past five years. The BRS-designed Kroc Center in Salem, Oregon received an award in the “theming” category.

The Salem Kroc center opened its doors in September 2009. The LEED Silver, 91,500-sq-ft community center represents part of the program initiated by a $1.8-billion gift from the late Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Salem received $35.5 million from the Kroc Foundation to build the community center and an additional $35.5-million endowment to help operate the facility. Local fundraising efforts brought the total project contribution to $81 million.

The design of Kroc Salem represents a combination of multiple community functions–aquatic center, recreation center, church, library, education center and cultural/performing arts facility—in one, all-encompassing complex, resulting in considerable operational savings and increased usage over a traditional recreation center.

The aquatics complex is a focal point of the center, in which an Oregon theme has been woven throughout the design. Celebrating the Oregon Pacific Coast and inland rivers and forests, the design incorporates a scaled-down replica of the lighthouse at Yaquina Head, a whale-tail spray feature, rock formations, an interactive blowhole, a lazy river and coniferous trees.

“Our charge was to re-create the best of Oregon inside,” said BRS Principal Keith Hayes. “There are so many inspiring places, it was hard to pick, but the team did a great job of executing the vision.”

The aquatics complex also includes a separate 25-yd-by-25-meter competitive pool with spectator seating for 250.
The same project has been the recipient of numerous local and national design awards, including a 2010 Honor Award of Merit by the American Institute of Architects, Salem Chapter; a 2010 Innovative Design and Architecture Award from Recreation Management; a 2010 Building of America Award; a 2010 Maintenance and Operations Award for Energy Savings Design from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Association; and a 2010 Top Project for Private Buildings award, in the $15.1 - $50 million project category, by The Daily Journal of Commerce.

The Dream Designs showcase is featured in the July/August 2011 issue of Aquatics International magazine. Founded in 1989, Aquatics International is a publication devoted to the commercial and public swimming pool industries.