Lester Buresh Family Community Wellness Center a 2021 Facilities of Merit

The Lester Buresh Family Community Wellness Center in Mount Vernon, Iowa,  has been named a 2021 Facilities of Merit by Athletic Business.

Each year, 10 athletic facilities are selected from the dozens submitted to the publication’s annual Architectural Showcase. A rotating panel of architects selects projects on the basis of plan efficiency; functional relationships and measures taken to maximize use of space; interior finishes, detailing and color schemes; exterior design; relationship of building to site; and cost of construction for value received.

Of the 10 projects selected as a 2021 Facility of Merit, project budgets ranged from the LBC’s $7 million to $150 million, with most projects above $20 million.

“The function is very clear and deliberate – nothing wasted, an exercise in efficiency and clarity,” said juror Chris Kastelic, AIA, a principal at Sink Combs Dethlefs Architecture and Design. “I just love how they chose to lift the solid boxes to expose the unexpected strip of windows. The exterior is just so powerful.”

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This community wellness center serves both as a formal and informal gathering space for community groups and residents as well as a multi-purpose wellness facility.

As one awards juror wrote, it is “a simple yet elegant community wellness center that will be a public asset for many years to come.”

The center includes two courts and a multipurpose space that can be used for practices concurrently or combined into one space for tournaments, a track, fitness and weight areas, a group fitness room, and a community room.

Designed for future flexibility, the building takes advantage of the site’s topography to create an entry plaza and sunken courtyard on the east, with space for a pool expansion on the west.

The center’s form is created by two solid bars – one clad in precast concrete and the other brick – slightly offset from each other.   Located at a busy intersection and adjacent to the local high school, glass is used at strategic locations in the solid form to allow views out, reveal activity within, and create a welcoming presence.

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It was the building’s simple form and use of exterior materials, including the ground-level curtainwall, which allows passersby a peek at interior activity, that caught the attention of several Athletic Business Journal judges.

“This highly abstracted and deceptively simple massing has lightly touched down, as if it were from elsewhere, while somehow also seeming to have always been there. It aligns itself with the street edge – gently hovering above the boulevard, tracking the gentle slop of the site on its flanks, and solidly anchoring itself to the community,” says Ted Watson, AIA, a juror and a partner and Design Leader at MJMA Architects in Toronto, Canada.

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