Quapaw, Oklahoma (2015)
On April 28th 2014 an EF2 tornado swept through Quapaw Oklahoma, leaving half of the town destroyed. As an addition to the surviving wellness center the John Berry Fitness Center is the first civic building to be built since the tragic event. With the aid of a Housing and Urban Development Grant and matching funds from the Quapaw Tribe, design excellence was achieved through simple massing and a durable yet economical material palette. The Quapaw tribal colors are displayed to the public by a front porch, lined with red stucco that spans the length of the gym, providing an uninterrupted connection to the town’s main street. Sitting atop the porch is a large blue volume, clad in a prefinished box rib panel, housing the gymnasium, acting as a civic symbol to the rest of Quapaw. Natural light is brought in from each corner of the gymnasium to provide a balanced lighting strategy. In order to control daylight and heat gain, glazing is recessed and shaded by the west facing porch, while north and south windows are flush with the exterior wall. This approach allows the gymnasium to operate with minimum artificial lighting throughout most of the day, reducing the total energy consumption of the building. The fitness center extends the gym typology to a community center, by hosting town hall meetings, ceremonies, and high school dances. The John Berry Fitness Center illustrates that ennobling civic architecture can happen anywhere, at any scale, and on any budget.