West Lafayette Wellness Center / Perkins and Will
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Description sent by the project team. In 2016, when the West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Department began planning for a new community center, input was solicited from local residents on issues ranging from site planning and community space to gym size and layout. and the aquatic center. What emerged was a core design vision of inclusion – a facility that would welcome all members of the community.
“This is a comprehensive wellness and recreation center that is instantly welcoming, bright and open, and one of a kind in this community,” says Kevin Noe, Director of the Wellness Center. The Center’s inclusive restrooms and locker rooms are designed for use by all members and visitors and are the first of their kind in the state for such a facility.
The sweeping ceiling creates a striking and welcoming entryway, linking the various spaces of the program as it continues throughout the building. A central atrium serves as the heart of the building, where residents can gather before or after programs. Second floor terraces provide views of Cumberland Park and access to areas to exercise or relax. Universal design principles, such as clear wayfinding, an interior child watch area, and wider doors for sport wheelchairs, were implemented throughout the building to allow use by individuals and families of all ages and abilities. The pool features a zero depth entry and access ramp as well as an entry elevator.
Visual connections and ease of movement are critical to safety in locker rooms and restrooms. Washing and locker areas are clearly visible through glass partitions and openings directly to the gym and aquatic center. Safety is paramount: signage clearly marks the changing and shower areas; toilets have full-length doors instead of compartment doors.
“It is important to remember that privacy is at the heart of all conversations around locker rooms and inclusive healthcare facilities: the desire to use facilities that are easier and safer for users, regardless of their ability, gender, age or family status, is stems from our basic human need to belong,” says Lindsey Peckinpaugh, Principal and CEO of the Perkins&Will Chicago firm.
Initial post-occupation community surveys found strong support for inclusive bathrooms and lockers, citing ease of use, clearly marked wayfinding and safety measures, and more generally, as one user put it, “a symbol of I appreciate everyone.” “The idea of one facility that serves everyone drove the concept and every phase of planning,” says Dylan Fischer, project architect at Perkins&Will. “The principle of inclusion must be central in all health and wellness centers.”
From the stone façade and use of wood for the roof of the aquatic center to the focus on water and energy efficiency, the design is a reminder of the facility’s natural park setting and the importance of conservation and sustainability. For the users of the wellness center, the ample access to natural light throughout the building and the visual connection directly to the park aim to enhance physical and mental well-being – a central goal of a wellness center.