GYPSUM, CO—An architecture firm made every inch count at the $12.2 million, 57,000-square-foot Gypsum Recreation Center (GRC) in the mountain town of Gypsum, CO. While other community centers in Colorado often depend on tourism, the town of Gypsum opted to build a smaller center that was appropriately sized for the community of 7,000 full-time residents, says Craig Bouck, architect for Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture.

“They ended up with a small center, but it has all the features of a large center,” he says. “Because they could only build a limited amount, every space had to be multipurpose.”

For example, the basketball court is divided into two distinct spaces—half is devoted to gymnastics, and the other half features a synthetic court suitable for indoor sports such as roller hockey, basketball, volleyball or soccer. The pool can also be transformed from an active area with a lap swimming lane, aerobics space, water slide and lazy river to a more calming aquatic experience for small children and seniors.

The town, which is located about two-and-a-half hours from Denver in the Eagle Valley, wanted to place as much emphasis on community building as on wellness and fitness, so the firm designed the center of the building as a large living room with a coffee bar, lounge, fireplace and climbing wall.

“The idea is that from this living room, you can see everything that’s going on inside the center,” Bouck says. “You can see people and be seen or sit off in a quiet area.”

The rec center is part of the town’s master plan to create a centralized hub with a town hall, playground, sports fields and ampitheatre. After six years of planning, the city opened the center last month. The project was on time and under budget, Bouck says. Overall, he says the response to the community rec center has been overwhelming.

“They’ve been waiting for so long for it,” he says. “They sold an overwhelming amount of memberships on opening day, and it’s been a big success.”