Lester Buresh Family Community Wellness Center

Mount Vernon, Iowa
  • 2023 • American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
    Impact Award, Merit Award
  • 2021 • American Institute of Architects, Central States Region
    Honor Award
  • 2021 • Athletic Business
    Facility of Merit
  • 2021 • Iowa League of Cities
    All-Star Community Award
  • 2020 • American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
    Honor Award
  • 2020 • American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter
    People's Choice Award
  • 2020 • Masonry Institute of Iowa
    Appreciation Award

This multi-purpose community wellness center also serves as a formal and informal gathering space for community groups and residents in a small midwestern town.

Located in a residential neighborhood at the busy entrance to the school campus, it was critical that the building be transparent and welcoming. The design takes advantage of the site by nestling the gymnasium into the raised topography along the south to create a protected courtyard at the east and an entry plaza to the north.  These exterior spaces compliment the flexibility of the interior spaces and maintain the potential for a future pool expansion to the west.

The massing and layout was conceived of as two bars slightly offset from each other.  The north bar groups program functions that require enclosed space and organizes them along an axial circulation spine that runs the length of the building, connecting all spaces physically and visually at both levels.  The south, larger bar houses the double-story gymnasium components.

Three materials define the building’s exterior palette: precast concrete, glass, and brick.  Concrete and brick define the solid mass of the two bars and are strategically cut away at locations that frame visual connections to the exterior at track corners, that reveal activity within, and that allow translucent volumes to float.

The cross-axial entry is bracketed by a feature wall and stair which connects the two levels of the circulation spine.  This spine provides space for a climbing wall, gaming zones, and strength and cardio areas at the upper level. It also accommodates casual seating that compliments the adjacent community room and courtyard.  Two courts and a multipurpose space can be used for practices concurrently or combined into one space for tournaments and the upper level track encircles the gym with direct access to the fitness areas.

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