Opened in September 2009, The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Salem, Ore., was designed as a place for self-improvement and community connections, accessible to all. The 91,500-square-foot community center represents part of the program initiated by a $1.8 billion gift from the late Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. The gift was given to The Salvation Army in 2004 to build and endow community centers throughout the country.
Joan Kroc wanted communities to “have a facility in which people could develop their skills to the full extent of their potential.” Salem received $35.5 million from the Kroc Foundation to build the community center and a $35.5 million endowment to help operate the facility. Local fundraising efforts brought the total project contribution to $81 million.
The building incorporates a variety of community functions, from library to sports venue to performing arts space, and was designed to make residents feel welcome. At Kroc Salem, low cost membership is open to everyone and the center offers scholarships to residents in need. Building materials — including concrete masonry and metal paneling — and aesthetic appeal, suggest a contemporary, Pacific Northwest character, responding to the region’s connection to nature and focus on sustainable development.
The aquatics complex, featuring an Oregon theme, is a focal point for the facility. Play features for a variety of ages include floor geysers, interactive spray features, a lazy river, vortex and water slide that wraps around a scaled-down replica of the lighthouse at Yaquina Head. The slide plunge pool is surrounded by rock theming and includes a blowhole modeled after a natural feature at Depoe Bay. The blowhole is activated as bathers plunge into the splash zone at the bottom of the slide. The lazy river winds through a forest of artificial coniferous trees, and doubles as a resistance channel for exercise, therapy and rehabilitation. Outside, a sundeck and spray ground incorporate artificial boulders with spray features, emulating the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean.
The aquatics complex also includes a separate 25-yard-by-25-meter competitive pool that supports a variety of training and aquatics fitness activities, as well as competitive swim events. A 13-foot-6-inch-deep portion of the pool accommodates diving from two 1M springboards.
Spectator seating for 250 is elevated along one side of the competition pool, creating optimum sight lines. Support spaces for the aquatic programs include men’s and women’s team changing rooms, spectator restrooms, a wet classroom/party room, a meet management room, lifeguard break rooms and a pool manager’s office.
Locker rooms are provided for men and women, in addition to fifteen cabanas for families and individuals with special needs.
Prior to construction of the Kroc Center, the City of Salem lacked a comprehensive indoor leisure-aquatic center. Several local swimming pools were targeted for closure, and no funding was available for replacement or repair. Since opening Kroc Salem has hosted competitive lap swim training, local and regional swim meets, swim lessons and aquatics-based exercise classes.
The Kroc center is also part of a larger effort to revitalize Salem. The site — previously a gravel pit — had once been targeted by the city as the location for a new recreation center. City funded improvements included a new access road over the adjacent rail tracks and the reclamation of Claggett Creek, which passes through the site. The creek is now a vigorous wetland and the quarries have been filled with water. Future plans include development of a pathway system through the park.
Though the current neighbors are mostly industrial, the city leaders of Salem see the Kroc Center as a catalyst for change, as per Joan Kroc’s vision. The intent is to provide a 100-year building and being the pioneer building in the neighborhood, the design team embraced the opportunity to create eye-catching forms, marking the project as a “beacon of hope and agent of change.”
The larger volumes comprising the gymnasium and pools are on the south side of the site, where most visitors approach the building by car. A roof over the slide tower soars adjacent to Bill Frey Drive, with an expanse of window showcasing the water slide and leisure pool. Another key feature is the contemporized chapel steeple, visible from the entry drive and building entry.
The Salvation Army in Salem mandated that the project meet the standards of The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and be certified at the Silver level. The design and construction team collaborated to meet LEED Silver certification criteria in a variety of areas, including use of low-flow fixtures; minimization of construction waste; maximization of local and recycled material; specification of products with no volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde; and optimization of the building envelope’s energy efficiency.
Another energy savings move was the use of regenerative media filters over traditional sand filters. The regenerative media filters use only a fraction of the water to achieve the same function as sand filters, diminishing water consumption and decreasing the amount of chemicals needed and energy required to heat the water.
All told, The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Salem, Ore., is a dream facility, with theming characteristic to the Pacific Northwest, high environmental standards, and state-of-the-art mechanics.
NUTS & BOLTS
Cost: $30 million
Aquatic space: 22,000 square feet
Dream amenities: A leisure pool with a lazy river, spray features, vortex and water slide; an outdoor sundeck and splashpad; a 25-yard-by-25-meter competitive pool with spectator seating for 250 and a diving well.
- Dream Designer: Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture
- Architect: Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture CBTwo Architects
- Aquatic Designer: Water Technology Inc.
- Operational Planning: Ballard*King & Associates
- Civil Engineer: WesTech Engineering
- Landscape Architect: Christopher Freshley
- Structural Engineer: Miller Consulting Engineers
- Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer: GLUMAC Intl
- Electrical & Lighting Consultant: Reese Engineering
- Theming Consultant: Hormay Co.
- Contractor: LCG Pence
- Dolphin / Spectra Clean: Cleaners / vacuums
- Daktronics/Adolph Kiefer and Associates: Starting blocks,timing systems
- Neptune-Benson: Filters
- RMT: ADA Lifts
- Pentair Water Commercial and Aquatics: Pumps
- S.R. Smith: ADA lifts
- Splashtacular: Water slides
- Vortex Aquatic Structures Intl. / Water Odyssey: water-play equipment