92,000 Sq. Ft.
Through a collaborative and fruitful discovery and design process with the county’s design review team, community members, and multiple agency representatives we were able to design a first-of-its-kind, resilient co-located library and recreation center. The building shares spaces to integrate recreation and library programs into a lively, community building that also houses a children’s library area, maker space, three-bay gymnasium with an elevated track, full-service fitness room, pottery studio, commercial teaching and catering kitchen, senior lounge and computer lab, game room, meeting rooms, social hall, used book store, cafe, and underground parking garage — all under one roof.
Design inspiring gateway architecture that welcomes everyone and celebrates the diversity of Wheaton. Provide environments that are safe, well-lit and inviting. Create gathering spaces that attract community members of all ages and provide access to technology and diverse programming. Encourage interaction between Library + Rec Center users while separating the noisy from the quiet with clear circulation paths. Design an environmentally friendly building and site that maximizes taxpayer’s money. Utilize green space while providing parking and a clear, controlled avenue for traffic.
How does a twenty-first century building engage a diverse population in a meaningful way and provide robust amenities for a County with a shortage of available land to build on? By creatively co-locating “reading, recreation, and parking” under one roof. Wheaton, designated an Arts and Entertainment District, is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Maryland. The project challenge was to deliver a new state-of-the-art facility to help solve the inequities of outdated facilities and, more importantly, help create a community hub that fosters inclusion, equity and diversity.
The grand lobby is the connective spine that fuses the library, recreation center, used bookstore, café, and senior center together. It is a vital shared space that welcomes visitors to the facility, bathes informal gathering space with natural daylight, and provides wayfinding with bold colors, floor patterns, and plenty of transparent glass to each of the activity areas.
This is a big thing. It brings the whole community together.
The flexible yet compact design mixes literacy and leisure into one facility while also celebrating the many cultures of the area through vibrantly-colored wall panels, reminiscent of African, Hispanic and Caribbean art — a request from the diverse community. The Community Recreation Center includes a soaring, three-bay gymnasium with an elevated track, full-service fitness room, pottery studio, commercial teaching kitchen, game room, senior center, and social hall.
Outside the library is Wheaton Local Park, a 2.3-acre open play area which includes a multi-purpose ball field, a playground with musical instruments, a shaded reading circle with children’s book quotes inscribed in the seating, and a vibrant painted play mural of piano keys, musical notes, and the phrase “Let’s Play” translated into fourteen local languages.
LEED Gold building encourages activity and promotes wellness inside and out. Views between spaces like the senior center, recreation center, bookstore, café, and library encourage visitors to seek out new adventures and meet new neighbors. A compact building footprint is flooded with daylight in every space and provides views to the two roof gardens, the PV-ready roof, and the specimen trees in the adjacent park.
Montgomery County Planning Design Excellence
Maryland Masonry Association