Join Illinois Green Alliance as we get a closer look at the Community Recreation Center net zero project in Oak Park with Chris Lindren from the Park District of Oak Park and Brent Ross from Perkins & Will.
The Park District of Oak Park opened the Community Recreation Center in May 2023 to meet the needs of its diverse community, while tackling net zero. With equity, inclusivity, and sustainability as core values, the building design was informed by community surveys and meetings with residents. The result is a three-story 42,000 squarefoot contemporary brick, metal, and glass community center that will catalyze social cohesion and community belonging in an underserved area of town.
More About the Building
The building reduces its energy consumption by providing a robust building envelope with triple-panedglazing, energy monitoring and enhanced building controls, and an advanced variable refrigerant flow heat pump system with heat recovery. Arrays of photovoltaics on the roof, south façade, and a canopy onthe adjacent parking lot generate enough energy to exceed demands of the building – and, it is estimated,will save $80,000/year in energy costs.
The building takes advantage of the site’s east-west orientation,locating most glazing to the north along Madison Avenue. This allows interior spaces to benefit from ample daylight and passersby to view the activity within. The south and west façades have limited openings, respecting the neighbors’ privacy while reducing solar gain.
Battery storage is provided to allow portions of the building and the photovoltaic array to be functional during a power outage. The multipurpose center’s features range from a fitness center, indoor gym and walking track to community meeting rooms. Free after-school programs for students, new offices of the Community Mental Health Board, providing in-take and referral services, and an esports lounge were among the specific recommendations from teenagers – part of the community vision that the center be a welcoming space for all, not just athletes. Embracing the park district’s equity and inclusion mission, the inclusive bathrooms and locker rooms intentionally prioritize the privacy and comfort of users.