Crown Valley Community Center

Laguna Niguel, California

A flexible, open facility enhances existing programs and meets the city’s larger goals.

Designed with extensive public input, the new Crown Valley Community Center provides recreation, arts and cultural programs for the city of Laguna Niguel, while knitting together several amenities in the existing park.

The new 30,000-square-foot facility is about five times bigger than the building it replaced and creates a new hub for the park’s attractions. A structural flat-slab concrete deck at the basement provides open planning above to access sweeping views of nearby Saddleback Mountain and the park’s botanical reserve. A cantilevered deck surrounds operable glass walls on three sides that extend the usable space of the 4,000-square-foot ballroom, immersing those inside in a canopy of eucalyptus trees. From the entry, visitors can see the pool through the two-story glass lobby, a visual invitation to the popular amenity. Landscaped walkways connect the center with the park’s other elements.

The community’s influence can be found throughout the facility. Flexible spaces of varying sizes were designed for summer camps, after-school programs, and adult classes. The public can rent spaces for meetings, parties, and family celebrations — a specific request from residents that also creates a revenue stream for the city. A banquet hall capable of seating 300 people features a movable wall that easily subdivides and reconfigures the space.

Details throughout reflect the specific interests of different groups. The dance room was redesigned as an “active movement room,” with flooring and space to support many different styles of dance and classes. For parents who wait at the center while kids take swim classes or attend other programs, an expansive roof deck offers a comfortable place to relax.

Safety was another overriding concern. To address the need for a safe drop-off and pick-up zone near the building entrance — a top priority for parents — designers created a large pull-out area for drop-off/pick-up and waiting area away from the flow of traffic. The space also serves as a pre-function area for the amphitheater, a plaza for a weekend farmers’ market and a setting for the city’s annual Christmas light festival.

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