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Maryland Heights Community Recreation Center

A building for everyone

CannonDesign

Maryland Heights Community Recreation Center
By Caterina Testa -

Maryland Heights is one of the many sprawling suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri - an agglomeration of small houses, each with their small garden, stretching over rolling hills, a community served by standard strip malls, and flanked by a highway running parallel (yet far from) to the banks of the Mississippi. It was in this repetitive setting that the architects of CannonDesign together with the city authorities came up with the design for a Community Recreation Center, a municipal building hosting many activities and services for all. CannonDesign’s baseline approach to new projects is to first get a thorough understanding of the type of building required and the site on which it is to be built. This combines with tireless search for innovative solutions to similar problems. So they were immediately on the same wavelength as the local authorities, which had a very clear idea of what they wanted: a building for everyone that would help steer the community toward a better, brighter future. The features surrounding the site became key to the design of the building. In a built environment that took little heed of its setting, CannonDesign’s approach was to transform constraints into an opportunity to produce a unique site-specific program for local inhabitants. The site is flanked on the east by a busy highway producing a considerable noise nuisance. This constraint was turned into a project design opportunity: the highway side of the building was given a convex shape that creates an “acoustic shadow” deflecting the noise away from the building but at the same time giving the façade a sense of speed. To the west, the façade is concave, inviting users inside the building through the recessed entrance that becomes a sheltered entry plaza able to host a series of events, meetings, shows, and market stalls. The north side is connected to the existing water park by a gently sloping pedestrian ramp. The different flows on the two long...

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