The Fairview Recreation Center is a multipurpose community center including two gymnasiums, a commercial-size kitchen, and rooms for dance, martial arts, weightlifting, pottery, and meetings. The facility hosts a wide range of educational and athletic programs for children and adults, ranging from Scottish dancing to breakdancing. Owned by the Municipality of Anchorage and overseen by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, the current center consists of two buildings, both of which are entered at street level. The smaller structure to the east, built on what was formerly a surface parking area, opened in 1974 as the Fairview Community Recreation Center after Anchorage voters approved a $1.8 million bond issue in 1972. The larger building, which includes the gymnasiums, had a grand opening on June 5, 1982. The construction of the Recreation Center was part of a broader effort to redevelop the Fairview community. It is nestled in a residential section not far from Merrill Field Airport, a public-use general aviation airport. Various Fairview community centers existed prior to the current version, including the Fairview Neighborhood Center of the 1960s (1220 East 7th Avenue). These earlier centers were smaller and frequently underfunded. The Fairview Neighborhood Center, funded by the Greater Anchorage Community Action Agency, occasionally closed for months at a time when funds ran out.
The building serves as a meeting and gathering place for residents of Fairview, one of the nation's most diverse communities. One reporter referred to the recreation center as the "heart of Fairview," where older residents work out alongside younger ones, and stories about the community could be overheard. As a multi-use facility with relatively low-cost building material, including wood, brick, cinderblock, and glass, the recreation center nonetheless has a few notable design features. The exterior is wood shingle and clapboard that extends from the roof to ground level, with breaks for the entrances. The east and west buildings conjure projects like Aalto's Säynätsalo town center or more contemporary projects like the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (1959, Edward Larrabee Barnes) in Maine or the Sea Ranch (1960s, MLTW) in California. Silhouette designs around the exterior of the building depict athletic scenes to convey the center's recreational purpose. It is one of a few community centers located in Anchorage, along with others in Mountain View and Spenard.
Ahn, Eugene. “Heart of Fairview.” Anchorage Daily News, October 16, 1992, F1.
“Dancers Entertain at Fairview Center Opening.” Anchorage Daily Times, August 2, 1974, 3.
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. "Outdoor Recreation Action," Report 27, Spring 1973, 20.
“Fairview Center Re-Opens; New Programs are Charted.” Anchorage Daily Times, October 25, 1971, 13.
“Grand opening announcement.” Anchorage Times, June 4, 1982, 20.