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District of Columbia Center for Therapeutic Recreation (Joseph H. Cole Recreation Center)

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Joseph H. Cole Recreation Center
1977, Cooper-Lecky Partnership. 3030 G St. SE

The Cole Recreation Center is a landmark facility in both social and architectural realms. It is the second public recreation facility in the country specifically designed to serve retarded and handicapped persons. The Washington-based firm of Kent Cooper and William Lecky designed the double-story, irregularly formed, two-part building to provide physical and psychological shelter on the exterior as well as on the interior. Set on the edge of Fort Dupont Park, the site includes outdoor recreation areas, including a baseball diamond that is reached by a series of paved pathways specifically scaled for wheelchairs. The triangular day-care center is connected to the polygonal main building by a continuous terrace, with entry beneath a deeply cantilevered roof. The brick materials, small scale, and noninstitutional style of the buildings were specifically keyed to residential architecture both for user and neighborhood acceptance. The interiors are lit by clere-story strip windows that allow the light to make patterns as it filters through the structural space frames that support the roof. As in the surrounding grounds, the interiors were designed to be barrier free, with easy access from the central courtyard-amphitheater to the swimming pool, gymnasium, and work rooms. Doors are not only wide but often set on angled walls for easy maneuverability and gradual, unthreatening changes from one space to another.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "District of Columbia Center for Therapeutic Recreation (Joseph H. Cole Recreation Center)", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-SE10.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 278-279.

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