A well-designed community center changes the culture of a housing community
The Pools at the Great Park in Irvine, California elevates the concept of a traditional community center with iconic, modern architecture and an elegant, flexible design.
The facility is part of an eight-acre water park that serves as the heart of Great Park Neighborhoods, a new community developed by FivePoint Communities. The neighborhood is designed around a network of parks and trails, targeting young families and buyers seeking an active, healthy lifestyle.
Architecture is a big part of the community’s branding. “Design plays an important role in how a neighborhood feels and how its residents live,” FivePoint says in marketing materials.
The Pools is an architectural response to the Southern California lifestyle, connecting the center to outdoor spaces and creating places for people to gather. The floating wood roofs, native stone walls and generous glass are purposefully arranged to create a shelter from the elements in a central, airy pavilion, opening to outdoor spaces to leverage the mild local climate.
“We wanted to infuse a sense of sophistication and a true connection to place for this suburban community,” says Ozzie Tapia, LPA’s designer of the community center.
The design recognizes the changing role of the community center. Backyards are shrinking and Californians are no longer eager to build their own pool. They are also looking for a place to meet and socialize with their neighbors. And they want a facility where they can stage events without getting in their cars.
At the same time, developers like FivePoint are looking for new ways to attract modern homeowners. Land prices are soaring, putting a premium on effectively using any available space. Meanwhile, the competition for buyers is increasing, with clients looking for homes and amenities that fit their lifestyle.
“The developer really wanted something special for the neighborhood,” Tapia says. “We worked closely with them to develop a center that not only meets the needs of this new community, but that also fosters engagement and a sense of belonging.”
The design of The Pools seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces, with wide, covered patios and glass, accordion-style doors that open to the fresh air. An outdoor kitchen, fire pits and stylish pool-side cabanas create plenty of areas for residents to relax in privacy or with groups.
A reflective pond connects the center to the recreation pools and landscaping, which were designed by Brightview Landscape.
The indoor spaces are flexible, specifically designed to be re-arranged and re-sized, depending on the activities and current needs of residents. Overhead, the wood ceilings cast a warm glow while the stone edges provide texture and permanence. The furniture is both fun and functional, inviting residents to pause and enjoy.
The Pools opened in March 2018, and the community has already adopted the center and turned it into their own, using the spaces to host everything from movie nights to wedding receptions.