The area surrounding Ellis Park on Chicago’s South Side is scattered with low-income rental apartments maintained by the Chicago Housing Authority. The Arts and Recreation Center, positioned on the north terminus of the park, fulfills the neighborhood’s desperate need for a cultural facility. Embodying a healthy, comfortable, and social environment, the Center plays a critical role in nurturing a community that is recovering from years of neglect.
Arranged around a central lobby and oriented to respond to adjacent streets, four adjoining volumes contain a gymnasium, swimming pool, fitness room, club rooms and support spaces. All functions are visible from a single control point, requiring less staff while promoting safety and security.
The building’s design emphasizes openness, natural light, and positive energy. Large windows, arranged in a playful pattern, provide abundant natural light and connect the facilities to the outside community. Vibrant colors reflect the energy and excitement of the activity within. A roof deck covered by a bright yellow sculptural trellis provides both an outdoor gathering space with views of the park and a positive symbol for the neighborhood.
The Arts and Recreation Center is operated by the Chicago Park District. The free facility features individual exercise, team sports, dance, swimming, arts instruction, family activities, and senior citizen clubs. Judging by the high community usage, this dynamic and welcoming environment has contributed significantly to the revitalization of the neighborhood it serves.
The Arts and Recreation Center emphasizes a healthy, comfortable, and cultural environment through abundant access to daylight, connections to the outdoors, great indoor air quality, and programming that contributes to the ongoing revitalization of the South Side neighborhood. The design approach incorporates environmentally sustainable materials and systems, and details that minimize construction time, construction labor, and long term maintenance.
Increased wall and roof insulation, high-efficiency mechanical systems, LED fixtures, and automatic lighting controls allow the building to exceed energy codes. The facility houses two (2) unique indoor programs that include an indoor gymnasium and natatorium. The mechanical systems for the gymnasium is provided with energy recovery while the natatorium includes sustainable design features including radiant floor heating and destratification fans. These are designed to improve energy performance and promote space comfort. The energy performance of the building is comparable with other similar sustainable buildings and has an EUI (energy use intensity) of 76.5 kbtu/sf/yr.
The Center is located just north of Ellis Park on Chicago's South Side. The neighborhood, which includes many low-income housing projects, was in desperate need for a community and cultural center. The Arts and Recreation Center has a walk score of 74 and a transit score of 62.
A planted green roof, rain gardens, and permeable pavers help control storm water runoff.
Durable, recycled materials are used throughout. The mechanical systems for the facility include variable volume air systems that modulate airflow, heating, and cooling to meet the real time use of the facility. The equipment associated with these systems include high efficiency boilers and water heaters.