This new neighborhood gymnasium and community center serves the South Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, replacing a beloved but deteriorated recreation facility. Built on the site of the original “Rob Rec” and funded by the City of LA, the project transforms the undersized recreation center into a new state-of-the-art gymnasium and community anchor. In 2014, KDA was selected by the City of LA to develop and design a new recreation center to replace an deteriorating gymnasium on the same site. The original rec center, a large manor hall with a vast fireplace, first served as a community gathering space. In the 1960’s the city removed the fireplace and installed a substandard basketball court; although the court was not regulation-sized, the recreation center has an established basketball legacy, counting professional players Nick Young and Cedric Ceballos among its alumni. kdA’s challenge for this renovation was to design a replacement for a beloved but deteriorated recreation center that would bring the building to contemporary standards—without compromising its connection to the community. The neighborhood surrounding the recreation center is a microcosm of Los Angeles, centered amongst diverse social groups and housing types. This heterogenous quality to the area’s urban fabric led to a lengthy public process; it took two years to build a consensus for the project’s final direction. The site, an attenuated triangle bounded by busy traffic on Robertson Boulevard, presented limited opportunities for the large rectangular volume of a basketball court, and the surrounding perimeter of mature Melaleuca trees further limited planning options. To engage with the rhythm of the existing landscape, the building's exterior walls weave at the dripline of the trees to form a ribbon, thereby stabilizing the structure in a manner similar to the famous serpentine walls at the University of Virginia. The project is organized around a regulation basketball court with supplementary meeting spaces filling the edges of the irregular site. Designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, the building’s durable interior finish is exposed concrete block to preserve coolness, while its corrugated metal exterior and perimeter of trees provide a self-shading system to minimize the need for air conditioning. Four north-facing trusses spanning the gym are glazed with clerestory windows to provide continuous, indirect sunlight—eliminating the need for artificial lighting throughout the day.
kevin daly Architects, a leading architectural firm and design studio based in Los Angeles and New York City, is recognized for an extensive portfolio of public and institutional facilities that advance award-winning contemporary design in everyday life. kdA was founded in 1990 as an architectural practice with a focus on craft, construction systems, and material research. The firm’s work highlights the interrelationship of research and fabrication, material, form, and high-performance sustainability. These values are reflected in the studio’s open environment, anchored by extensive model making and fabrication facilities. The firm’s award-winning portfolio includes environmentally and socially responsive educational, residential, and institutional projects ranging in scale from campus master planning to single room artist workspaces.