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Visual connection with existing elements helps individuals orientate and retain a sense of familiarity. By allowing the design to visually frame pre-existing elements of the neighbourhood when looking through from across the street, such as the iconic Cal Anderson Water Fountain,  the new structure adapts. The visual connection sought after, through the courtyard design, also imitates that of the light rail station and the park. 

Cal Anderson Community Centre is located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood, at the intersection of Broadway Street and 11th Avenue. Facing the light rail and situated in the corner of a 7-acre urban park, its design evolves from a stacking system that allows a direct visual and physical connection from Broadway Street to Cal Anderson Park through a pathway.

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THE CONCEPT: The Stacking

The Tetris-like stacking system creates a visual connection at both the interior and the exterior of the building.  At the ground level, the shapes create a pedestrian area through which visitors can walk but most importantly see the iconic Cal Anderson Park Fountain. At the interior, the atrium allows a deliberated visibility of all sports activities. It also allows the building to be flooded with natural light and maximizes the airflow into the building through operable windows.

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THE PROGRAM: Community

Physical and Mental Well-being


Cal Anderson Sports Centre is thought to be a change of lifestyle in the neighbourhood. As its site is considered an area of high movement flow (being next to a main light rail station), the building encourages a mind shift away from the stress and rushing nature of peak hours. It does so by offering services that improve the mental and physical well-being of its users, such as racquetball courts, yoga studios and a running track, among other physical activities. Some of which are the only ones of their kind around the area, such as a three-story high climbing wall.


Focusing on absolute transparency, Cal Anderson Sports Centre decompartmentalizes the space to open it up to the community and frequent users of the light rail station, connecting users to the outside world, and encouraging non-users to explore the facility. The building offers unique services to improve the physical and mental well-being of its community such as

THE STRUCTURE: Materiality

Cal Sports Centre is compromised of three storeys above grade and one below grade. It uses steel construction for the above-grade structure and reinforced concrete flat slab construction with drop panels spanning to cast-in-place columns for the below-grade floors. Steel pipe columns are primarily used to achieve an architectural design for large, column-free areas with clear unobstructed facades. 

The glazed façade encloses the building and highlights the middle atrium. The exterior façade is supported only at the top and the bottom to achieve this long vertical span without large structural members that would interrupt the view. The facade‘s weight is hung entirely from the roof, with the bottom support used only for lateral bracing. The building uses a secondary steel structural façade with custom steel connections and thin steel cables that connect to crossed bracing elements in tension for lateral support.

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