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Community Center

A youth-focused sports center evolves into a community center during the design process focused on experience and atmosphere.

This feasibility study explored our client’s vision of creating an ice hockey-based sports center for youth in the Fox Valley outside of Chicago. Through research and focused discussions centered on the user experience (youth players, siblings, parents, coaches, and community), the program expanded to include other sports such as indoor soccer, volleyball, basketball, among others.

Individual sports-based facilities (ice rinks, basketball courts, etc.) were to remain as conventional as possible for flexibility and budgetary reasons. These “pavilions,” composed purposefully across the site of an existing farm, spatially frame inbetween space where supporting programs such as a lounges, cafe, library, art studio, and meeting rooms are placed to accommodate after school programs, siblings, and parents during various sporting events.  

A louvered trellis with integral solar panels shades the facility from the sun, reducing energy loads needed to cool spaces like ice rinks. Vertical wind turbines in the parking lot generate renewable energy while also celebrating local history of wind-pump manufacturing. Bioswales coupled with porous paving treats more as cars in a garden rather than a sea of asphalt as is common in the suburban experience.

Pavilions housing “conventional” individual sports facilities are composed on the site to provide ‘inbetween space’ where supporting programs like lounges, cafe, library, and meeting rooms are located.


Parking in a garden is placed between the new community center and future retail.

Strategically placed glazed walls put the activity of the entire facility on a richly layered display.

A centralized space leads to a network of smaller inbetween spaces that meander through the various program elements.

© Tom Lee Studio PLLC