Singing Hills Recreation Center / Perkins&Will
- Area :
Manufacturers : Carlisle SynTec, Firestone Building Products, Guardian Glass, Timber Systems, Armstrong, Lock-Deck, Mosa, Nucor Vulcraft/Verco Group, Oldcastle Building Envelope, Robbins Bio-Cushion LP, Texastone Quarries, Zandur
Lead Architects :
Text description provided by the architects. The Singing Hills Recreation Center design began with a modest budget and program located on the fringes of downtown Dallas. The site offered a hilltop punctuated by natural limestone outcroppings, densely wooded surroundings, and adjacency to a new public transit line. Growing excitement about the project led to a series of community meetings where the participants generated a list of aspirations for the building, asking that it become a beacon, have a clear identity, and prioritize community and the natural landscape.
Through engagement with the public and the interpretation of their goals, the design team conceived of the building as a piece of site infrastructure, uniting vehicular, train, bike, and environmental networks to form a layered space of social exchange and well-being. To achieve this expression, the designers sited the building as close as possible to the train line, linking the two with direct pathways and a tree-filled plaza.
A key design strategy involved burrowing the gymnasium into the hillside to follow the site topography and reduce the volumetric bulk of the space, thereby maintaining a human scale and introducing surprise overlooks into the gym activities.
The building design engages and reinterprets the surrounding natural environment. The existing tree canopy is abstracted as an undulating overhead plane, framing views, revealing the activities inside, and allowing the natural terrain to visually flow through the building. Strategies of filtering, layering, and screening informed the interior expression and provide a restorative setting that blends with the natural ecosystem. Exclusively use of native Texan plants, and a carpet of wildflowers reestablishes the natural flora of the site’s pre-development condition.
The Singing Hills Recreation is a place for social interaction, designed to encourage the most amount of activity overlap. This new public amenity is given a clear identity as a place for the community to gather and encourage healthy behaviors. Benefitting a historically underserved neighborhood, the design delivers a human-scaled experience with an elevated level of civic presence.
This is achieved through a clear concept that is articulated through a simple material palette and refined details. Direct access to downtown Dallas via light rail offers expanded economic opportunities and allows the center to serve as a symbol of and gateway to a more equitable future for the area.