The Deni & Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athletes Foundation Center
Much like the dynamic athletes the space hosts and represents, this Deni & Jeff Jacobs Challenged Athlete’s Center shines in its humble environment; transcending its original intent to become both an inspiration to those who work and visit the building, as well as an enhancement to its surroundings. Situated in a commercial park in Mira Mesa, this structure was originally one of the many nondescript cookie-cutter office buildings it is currently surrounded by, and now, the contrast is striking. As one juror noted, “It’s like the hot girl moved in next door!” Transforming a mundane, mirrored office building into an iconic structure, the Challenges Athletes Center changed the nature of the entire office park. The building features an innovative façade and establishes a bold identity, while simultaneously allowing natural light to softly pepper the interior spaces. Internally, the weaving of spaces, undefined at times, forces interaction yet playfully overlaps, allowing flexibility of uses according to the changing needs of the facility, whether it is for sports, recreation or fundraising. This remarkable exterior transformation allows the building to stand out and creates a fresh identity.
- Project Address: 9591 Waples Street
- Project Owner/ Developer: Challenged Athletes Foundation
- Project Architect/ Designer: Nathan Lee Colkitt Architects
The Challenged Athletes Foundation [CAF] offers athlete funding, access to performance‐enhancing prostheses, skill development and peer mentoring through innovative programs to empower the physically challenged. The renovated building’s objective was to facilitate helping one athlete at a time. The building called for a place where all components of the organization can interact: Spaces for donors to congregate, areas for disabled athletes to be celebrated and places for the facilitating team to provide support. One main objective was to make sure universal design was executed in such a way as to make every space accessible to all, not only physically accessible, but also visually accessible and barrier‐free. CAF had the goal of creating a space that was inviting and welcoming as anyone’s own home. Connectivity, through openness and relationships, was a major design goal. Whether with sight or light, the space is as open as possible without compromising usability. The upper level is tethered to the lower level, the indoors connected with the outdoors, the donors with the athletes, and people with light and air. The in‐between spaces create moments of chance encounters. These transitional spaces become more important than defined spaces. With the elimination of corridors, space is forced to open onto each other and overlap activating an unseen intensity of social-interaction experiences. This engenders flexible spaces with multiple uses fostering connections with athletes, donors, and administrative team, routinely mapping the memories of new encounters. The renovation of the building became an act of rehabilitation, finding new uses in the existing context and maximizing the value of the content. Akin to the body of a disabled athlete, the existing building was an imperfect building. Like a prosthetic, technology was used to heal and enhance the building performance, synthesizing the old and new. The buildings are sited in a business park; they were all developed around the same period for the same purpose; lease‐able office space. The challenge was to create a unique home in the anonymous surroundings of an office park. CAF overcomes the mundane through the use of transparency, color, light, and graphics. The structure was de‐materialized through camouflage, a mapping strategy that distorts an existing geometry, in effect losing form. By devaluing the existing geometry the presentation and expectations of CAF are changed. The front façade is the first impression people get of challenged athletes, and its an opportunity to really project the essence of the foundation outward and draw people in. The essence is unity, creating a whole. The existing structure is our support system. Built of wood trusses, joists, and shear walls, steel posts, steel diagonal bracing and a slab on grade the renovation emphasizes a sustainable approach maintaining the natural beauty of the structure.