Owner: City of Aurora
Lead Design Firm: Populous
General Contractor: Adolfson & Peterson Construction
Engineers: Design Workshop; Martin/Martin Inc.; R&R Engineers-Surveyors Inc.; The Ballard Group
Subcontractors: All City Floor; Arrow J Landscape & Design; Associated Pool Builders; Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping; C. Morgen Masonry; Douglass Colony Group; E Light Electric Services; EAP Inc.; JK Concepts; Procraft Mechanical Inc.; ThyssenKrupp Elevator; Total Concrete Services

Aurora’s new recreation center is as much a work of art as it is a city-owned, amenity-rich facility for exercise and wellness—one that was funded entirely by revenue from marijuana taxes. The city dedicated almost a half-million dollars for custom art in the 61,250-sq-ft center, much of it influenced by public input and integrated into the building itself. “The community was at the heart of this project,” says 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.” He adds, “This design allows visitors to customize their own experience and increases user involvement across the facility.”

From the suspended sculpture in the entrance to the hand-painted glass from Germany and individual colors in the tiles, the entire facility depicts energy and movement. The theme is evident in large and small elements, patterns and finishes, such as wall coverings and lighting. All of it required intense collaboration to build. “We had to create individual units for each pane [of glass],” says Ian Warner, Adolfson & Peterson project manager. “If we had broken even one of those, it would have been hard to replace it.”

The 38-ft floating staircase, which also serves as grandstand seating and a stair-climbing venue, is a functional art piece on its own—and required significant concrete expertise to build, Warner says. The amenities include a lazy river, lap pool, kiddie pool area, warm-water spa, indoor wave pool and what the team says is North America’s first interactive water slide. It allows people to choose a theme at the top of the slide for their plunge into the pool.

Back to ENR's Best of the Best Projects 2019