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Aurora, Colo., recreation center features city’s first indoor field house, unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains

Sports and Recreational Facilities

Aurora, Colo., recreation center features city’s first indoor field house, unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains

The $41.9 million, 77,000-sf Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse aims to mimic the geography of a canyon.


By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor | March 17, 2023
Aurora, Colo., recreation center features city’s first indoor field house, unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains
All photos: Conor Culver, courtesy Populous

In January, design firm Populous and the City of Aurora, Colo. marked the opening of the Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse. The 77,000-sf facility draws design inspiration from the nearby Rocky Mountains.

With natural Douglas Fir structure and decking, the building aims to mimic the geography of a canyon. The large open entryway spans the length of the building and offers expansive mountain views through a glass curtainwall. The glass walls also provide light and visibility into various areas such as the basketball courts.

Populous designed the facility, including the city’s first indoor field house, to respect the site while also meeting the project requirements of operational efficiency, cost-effective design, and the community’s betterment.

“This new recreation center and field house stands apart as a breathtaking example of a community asset that is built to reflect, benefit, and showcase its people and its landscape,” Gudmundur Jonsson, senior architect and principal at Populous, said in a statement. “The City of Aurora now has another cost-effective and operationally efficient space that will allow it to further serve its community.”

An elevated running track extends from inside the gym out into the entryway and along the curtainwall, evoking a mountain trail. The fitness area includes a 3,000-sf patio and a garage door opening to outdoor training areas. In addition to the gym, track, and other outdoor fitness areas, the recreation center includes community spaces, volleyball courts, pickleball courts, pools, and a 20-foot-tall waterslide that runs 152 feet long.

The $41.9 million project is the second ground-up recreation center constructed for Aurora in over four decades. Populous also led the design of Aurora’s Central Recreation Center.

On the Building Team:
Owner: City of Aurora Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Department
Design architect and architect of record: Populous
MEP engineers: The Ballard Group, Innovative Electrical Systems
Structural engineer: Martin Martin
General contractor/construction manager: Saunders Construction

Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse by Populous Photo by Conor Culver

Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse by Populous Photo by Conor Culver

Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse by Populous Photo by Conor Culver

Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse by Populous Photo by Conor Culver

Southeast Aurora Recreation Center and Fieldhouse by Populous Photo by Conor Culver

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