August 08 2012

South Tacoma, Washington’s New 32,000 Square Foot LEED Certified Activity and Recreation Center

South Tacoma, Washington's new recreation and activities (STAR) center. During a season of economic frugality and budget cuts in the U.S., it is great to see that community development is not on the chopping block in Tacoma, Washington’s South End. May 19, 2012 marked the grand opening of Metro Parks Tacoma’s new South Tacoma Activity and Recreation (STAR) Center. The STAR Center is a 32,000 sq. ft. community center that provides Tacoma residents and neighboring communities a terrific gathering and activity space. A large main hall with a stage, fitness rooms, dance studio, multi-purpose room, indoor and outdoor play areas, community teaching/catering kitchen, and rentable party rooms are just a few of the amenities the center offers.

Since The GRID is about environmental design I want to highlight the features I found unique about this activity center; being that it’s rated LEED Silver.  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the U.S. Green Building Council‘s certification for sustainable building, and Silver is the second out of four levels of certification.LEED Silver green diagram.

The STAR Center’s sustainable strategies include:

  • Natural storm drainage;
  • Rain gardens;
  • Ground source heat pumps;
  • Natural ventilation;
  • Natural day lighting;
  • Recycled, rapidly renewable, and low-emitting materials.

The landscape design of a large detention pond provides the natural storm drainage and will include an interpretive nature path around the building and site. The center is only the first phase of a larger South End Recreation Area master plan which is expected to include an outdoor adventure park with a ropes course, a climbing wall, a rope bridge, bike trails, and a zip line through a grove of trees.

STAR Center building floor plan.

The modern design and architecture of the building, and main gathering spaces, were intentionally designed and oriented primarily to take advantage of the view of Mt. Rainier to the southeast. The STAR Center is another example of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations leading sustainable development in Tacoma, and hopefully we will see more commercial enterprises following suit.

Where is your favorite activity center and what makes you use it?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Kennith George

Kennith George grew up in the Greater Seattle, Washington area and holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Washington. His interest began in architecture, but he quickly found his passion in urban planning and policy. He views much of the built environment as unsustainable and detrimental to healthy societies and community life. He plans to pursue a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Washington, but for now he is enjoying a local government internship in community and economic development. He is grateful for the opportunity to have been an environmental design blogger for Global Site Plans,' The GRID. Kennith’s area of focus lies with the New Urbanism movement of creating walkable, compact, mixed-use, livable, and pedestrian-sized sustainable communities.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 at 9:33 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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