Design + Nature + Community: Santa Fe’s Chavez Center

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Leave it to Santa Fe to build a recreational center that is an icon to Santa Fe values.  The Genoveva Chavez Community Center (GCCC) is at once an art piece of exquisite design, a testament to environmental sensitivity, and a supporter and champion of community. The Center includes an aquatic complex, gymnasium, fitness center, track, skating rink, community, class and conference rooms. The space is vast, clean and slightly awe-inspiring.

The GCCC was designed by Mazria, Inc., an internationally respected leader in the field of environmental design. In keeping with Santa Fe’s commitment to resource conservation, the Mazria team incorporated passive solar heating, passive cooling, water conservation and water harvesting strategies into the building design.  Energy use is further reduced through Daylighting: placing windows, clerestories and skylights to make the most effective use of natural light and minimize the amount of artificial lighting needed.

The first time I took my daughter there to swim, some five years ago, I found the pool area dark.  Much as I dislike florescent lighting, I’m accustomed to its hard, bright illumination. But over the hour, I came to love the soft ambiance.

The Chavez Center design is a sturdy marriage of form and function, execution and intent. A multi-level atrium visually connect the Center’s major spaces –Aquatic Center, Gym and Ice Arena. The treadmills overlook the 50 meter pool; the elliptical machines are hard by the track, itself situated to capitalize on stunning shots of the Sangres. While other gyms have TVs poised above their machinery, I’ll take the unpredictable and ever-changing vista of real people any day. As I cycle my way up “hills” of resistance, I get sucked into the world on the ice rink: the graceful spins and leaps of figure skaters and the heart-charming earnestness of the Pee Wee Hockey team.  Nothing soars my heart and humor like a line of equipment-swathed squirts simultaneously hurling themselves onto the ice for practice falls.

Membership is a steal: $369.00 annually for an individual, $551.00 for a couple –less if you sign up during this month’s 20% off drive.  Carpe sanitas!


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