Recreation centers offer key benefits to their communities – they promote healthy, active lifestyles and stronger interpersonal relationships; offer a safe space for children and teens; and contribute to tourism and economic growth. The new Watauga County Recreation Center is no exception – it delivers on the Watauga Parks and Recreation Department’s goals for enjoyable, fun, and safe programming.

Located on an intersection, the 100,000 square foot facility creates a welcoming edge along both streets with a design that echoes the surrounding Appalachian ridges. A grey clad, undulating roof, extensive curtainwall, and metal standing seam contrast with wood and stone to deliver an aesthetic that is both modern and reminiscent of the mountainous landscape.

Watauga Community Recreation Center; Architect: Clark Nexsen

The recreation center features a wide variety of spaces, including a six-lane competition pool and leisure pool, four full-size gymnasiums, a multipurpose studio, events classroom, fitness center with weight and exercise rooms, two birthday party rooms, and a suspended track. Visitors are met with a double-level glazed lobby and monumental staircase, which leads to the fitness center and suspended running track on the upper level.

Watauga Community Recreation Center; Architect: Clark Nexsen
Watauga Community Recreation Center; Architect: Clark Nexsen

Extensive use of glass reinforces users’ sense of community, with views into the fitness space, down to the lobby, and into the gymnasiums and the pools. This ability to see and be seen will foster more connections and interaction.

Watauga Community Recreation Center; Architect: Clark Nexsen
Watauga Community Recreation Center; Architect: Clark Nexsen

This facility also encompasses the county’s Parks and Recreation offices, supporting employees’ sense of purpose by integrating their offices alongside rec center users. Beyond its indoor recreational opportunities, the new center improves connectivity with outdoor amenities such as the Town of Boone’s greenway system – a network of continuous jogging and walking trails.

Awards
AIA North Carolina Honor Award, 2020