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Design Underway for Center

New community center should be open by mid 2007.

Tony can fly when he assumes the Lotus position, but he can’t walk through glass walls. Tony, a computer-generated animation, will be just one of the tools used by the architects designing the Dulles South Multi-Purpose Center.

Tony can be directed to run around the building, so that nearby residents can see what the building would look like from their yard. He can also enter the building so that people can see the inside, as well.

About 25 people came to the first in a series of meetings about the center, held at the Arcola Community Center Aug. 25. The architects came to get some initial feedback about the sorts of amenities that people would like to see.

The community center is to be built on Riding Center Drive, near Tall Cedars Parkway in South Riding in three phases. “The first one, which is completely funded and will be built is the community center,” said Mark Bodien of Moody Nolan, one of the architects. The first phase, a 23,900-square-foot community center is fully funded and will cost $9 million. It is expected to be open in the spring or summer of 2007.

Once the new facility is open, the existing Arcola Community Center will be closed, said Bruce McGranahan, manager of facilities planning and development for the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

The department had initially looked at renovating the existing center at Arcola, McGranahan said. “It was actually more expensive to renovate,” he said in a later interview.

The second phase of the center is projected to be about 64,000 square feet and would include a pool, track and gym. It might cost up to $15 million, but it is not yet funded. McGranahan said he hopes to have it funded it and built soon. Any funding decisions will ultimately be made by the Board of Supervisors.

Phase three would add another 20,000 square feet to the community center, it also is not funded. “This allows things like the senior center and child-care center to get bigger,” Bodien said.

BEFORE ANYTHING can be built, of course, it must be designed. “We need your input to help us get to that point,” said Bodien.

Bodien and Janet Jordan, also of his firm, presented different aspects of what goes into a community center. They showed photos of other centers across the country, and explained some of the design trends in similar centers.

Centers now tend to use architecture, which reflects the community, instead of just being big boxes, they explained.

The new center will likely include space for a senior center and for child care in phase one, generally replicating the uses currently in Arcola. While it will be roughly the same size, the idea is to better design the facility.

“It will be a more efficient space,” said Jordan.

The second phase, which will include a pool, may actually have multiple pools. “One thing that community centers are doing now is having two bodies of water,” Bodien said. He said that typically, there are lap pools and other, leisure pools used for more recreational pursuits.

The second phase would also include space for exercise facilities, such as a jogging track and gym equipment. This area, too would be designed to be more open and have windows, not what some might consider a typical gym. “This isn’t the basement of a brick building,” Bodien said.

Although the second and third phases of the project are not funded, they will be designed along with the first phase, Bodien said. This way, the facility can be designed to be expandable.

The design will strive to optimize the available land, and will attempt to minimize future disruptions during construction of later phases after the building is open.