The recently completed community center in the outer-ring St. Louis suburb of Maryland Heights, Missouri, has already gathered multiple awards. Designed by CannonDesign, the complex replaces an outdated facility for the community of 27,000. Its sweeping form and landscape are shaped to mediate between the projects diverse public programs and a busy highway.

The 92,000-square-foot facility provides a space for athletics as well as a number of other community programs that were held at the previous facility. The new center includes multi-use courts, group exercise rooms, weight and cardio spaces, a cycling studio, an indoor track, and an indoor pool.  Additional outdoor spaces were also designed to provide room for recreational events and additional parking.

CannonDesign worked with Maryland Heights stakeholders to establish community needs and organize the project’s program. Community spaces include multi-use event spaces, a preschool, babysitting area, senior space, meeting rooms, and a police substation.

The form of the building and landscape are designed to present the functions of the building to the greater public while shielding the center’s users from the sound of a nearby highway. In order to maintain the usable green space around the project, and to separate it from the busy roadway, the landscape was lifted around the building to create an occupiable berm. Much of the building’s program was nestled into this landscape, while the curving form of the building shelters the entryway from highway noise. These lower programs, which include the meeting rooms and preschool, have their own private courtyard for light and air. The transparent public-facing facade allows for views into the building, while a translucent triple-walled polycarbonate wall controls light and sound coming into the gymnasium. The most dramatic space may be the light-filled indoor pool, which occupies the curving south end of the building.

The Maryland Heights Community Center was a 2016 AIA St. Louis Unbuilt Merit Award winner, as well as the recipient of a 2017 AIA St. Louis Honor Award.  In conjunction with the nearby city outdoor waterpark, the center acts as a new civic hub.

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