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New Comminity Center Design Celebrates The Historic Mead Pinto Bean Processing Plant

By Kristen Hodel - April 12, 2024

New Comminity Center Design Celebrates The Historic Mead Pinto Bean Processing Plant
Located in the heart of downtown Mead, Colorado, the site of the former pinto bean processing plant dating back to the 1920s is now the location for the Town of Mead’s new 11,500-square-foot Community Center. Essenza Architecture is leading the design and working with Norris Design, providing landscape architecture and placemaking elements.
The Center is located near the Mead Town Hall and Town Park, adding to the centralized civic area. The building siting and overall site layout reflect the entry location and axis of the historic buildings. Center programming includes a full-size cross-court gymnasium, a flexible multipurpose room, rentable patio space for community events, and dedicated staff offices. The site design supports indoor-outdoor leisure and community programming, including a splash pad/event plaza, seating areas, walking paths, and native landscaping.

The new building will incorporate remnant components of the historic bean plant to commemorate its agricultural history, including a large conveyor converted to a light pole and gateway structure and grain bins converted to planters. A custom logo inspired by the Bean Plan has been developed and will be featured throughout the signature site elements on sandblasted stone blocks, planter pots, and signage design.

Construction will begin in the summer of 2024, and the Town of Mead will celebrate the opening of the highly anticipated Center in the summer of 2025. Impact Fees, a one-time fee imposed by the Town on new development projects, were used to purchase the former bean plant. The collective team conducted a significant community engagement effort to help identify priorities.

Aquatic Transformation

By Victoria Webster, Former Project Assistant, Essenza Architecture

Aquatic Transformation

Scott Carpenter Park and Pool is a community park located in Boulder, Colorado, that provides a wide variety of recreational facilities, including swimming pools, a skate park, an open turf field, diamond fields, and a space-themed playground in honor of the park’s namesake, astronaut, and aquanaut Scott Carpenter, a former Boulder resident. Over the past several years, the pool facilities
have undergone a major renovation and transformation that represents what was desired most by the community, user groups, and stakeholders. The design team was tasked with creating an iconic, state-of-the-art facility that promotes inclusiveness, accessibility, sustainability, and durability while honoring and nurturing the existing mature trees and established an astronaut theme. We transformed and repurposed the existing building into a low-maintenance, durable facility with a warm mountain feel that reflects the Flatiron formations in the foothills of Boulder.

The renovated facility opened in the summer of 2020 and included a new 50-meter outdoor pool, a double waterslide tower, an 8,000 square foot recreation pool that includes a diving board, jumping platform, drop slide, climbing wall, lazy river, zero depth entry, and an outer-space themed water play feature. In addition to the pools, there is a 2,000-square-foot splash pad featuring a 20-foot-tall rocket ship that ties back to the existing historic rocket ship playground feature. Colorado has only a handful of outdoor 50-meter pools, and this feature certainly makes Scott Carpenter Park a destination for competitive swimmers. The additional fun water amenities provide engaging activities for people of all ages. The heavily renovated bathhouse features durable materials alongside the existing preserved historic brick, an accessible design for all ages, and an undulating curved blue roof mimicking water waves to welcome visitors.

Outdoor design features include shade structures that are scattered throughout the deck in wave-like forms to provide much-needed cover from the Colorado sun. Shower towers are outside each locker room to encourage rinsing off before jumping into the pools. Low retaining walls and grass landscaping are provided in the patron lounging area. The facility offers ample bicycle parking and enlarges paths on all sides of the property, encouraging multi-modal transportation and accommodating increased traffic, an important goal for Boulder.

During COVID, the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation team has been adapting the use of the facility in innovative ways. The 50-meter pool is being used in the 25-meter direction so that more individual lanes are open, and swimmers can be socially distanced, allowing the facility to stay open. At other times of the day, the 50-meter pool is sectioned off into pods where families can swim together.

After several years of design collaboration and community outreach aimed to meet the community’s aquatic and park needs, the renovated facility is a top recreation destination for the City of Boulder and surrounding communities.


How to Create Pools at Your Fitness Facility That Will Amaze Your Members

How to Create Pools at Your Fitness Facility That Will Amaze Your Members

If you have been at one of the newest sports arenas or at one of Las Vegas" trendy casinos, you likely remember that those venues stimulated each of your senses, creating an almost fantasy-like experience. Now, think about your typical fitness club where a sea of gray equipment appears in monotonous straight lines, surrounded by bland wall colors and fluorescent lights dangling from exposed beams. Which environment are you likely to spend the most time in, and more importantly, which physical environment are you likely to spend the most money in? Chances are that most of you would say the casino or sports stadium, but it should not be that way. Members should rave about the atmosphere of health clubs, too. Why not create an exciting space with beautiful rolling curves where the equipment helps define the experience, the colors build excitement, and the lighting creates energy?

The goal of creating engaging fitness and workout spaces is to provide a physical environment that invigorates and seduces your members so they will return. By creating dynamic spaces, your members will enjoy working out, and your trainers will be able to perform at their best. A well-designed facility should induce passion while providing good circulation, interesting equipment layouts, proper materials, visually pleasing colors, and great lighting design.

The foundation of any good design is the circulation path, especially in a fitness area where many members move from the entry to the locker rooms, locker rooms to the fitness floor, and finally among the various activity spaces. Circulation is integral to a successful club layout. The design must create movement and flow and present a sense of space where members are not falling over each other. Doing so creates more interest in the workout space, which in turn enhances the member enjoyment factor.

In addition to good circulation, innovative equipment layouts can create exciting visual interest in a large fitness space. A layout with a soft curve can enhance the appearance and feel that accompanies the typical layout that stacks treadmills, elliptical machines, and other pieces of equipment in neat but monotonous queues. Large lines of equipment are best replaced with “mini" workout spaces (zones) that separate the equipment and create workout communities. (As in the example shown in the drawing above). One concept for arranging selectorized equipment is to lay it out in a “pod-like" formation using circles or ellipses. This provides a more socially interactive environment for trainers to work in and for members to work out.

Originally published on


Dedication to Recreation and Sunrise Hikes Through CPRA

Dedication to Recreation and Sunrise Hikes Through CPRA

It is a special time of year -- the annual convergence of recreation professionals at Colorado Park’s Recreation Association’s annual conference. As we packed up the Essenza-branded exercise bands, mugs, and fanny packs, our excitement grew. With the tradeshow booth secure in its case, we made our way to Snowmass to spend 48 hours connecting with clients, colleagues, and friends. It is an energizing event filled with learning opportunities, new connections, karaoke crooners, and, this year, a very special sunrise hike. Thank you, fabulous CPRA staff, for thoughtfully planning your event at the height of fall color season!

The CPRA conference allows us to connect with others passionate about improving quality of life through recreation. As a self-proclaimed gym rat, you will often find me at my favorite local municipal recreation center. Early in my career, I was fortunate to hold the the head lifeguard at Arizona State University’s Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. Kristen, my conference partner and business development lead, has been in a dance class of some kind for 44 years and holds a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Administration. We love talking about all things recreation and helping municipalities realize their goals. It is this personal relationship to municipal recreation that fuels our commitment to supporting the CPRA community.

With its largest attendance ever, the conversation during CPRA’s “Schmoozapalooza” was robust. We heard a lot of good news about projects underway, and others are being looked at for the future. The most common challenge is funding. Now that the long-felt shell shock of construction inflation has settled in a bit for municipalities, many are adjusting their game plans to fulfill the communities’ expressed desires for additional recreation facilities or improve the existing ones. All options are on the table--private-public partnerships, IGAs, grants, inventive fundraising campaigns, and tax initiatives. It will be an exciting time to watch the ballot results both this year and in 2024. We wish all the communities asking for voter support best wishes for “Yes” outcomes!

You have our gratitude CPRA community! See you in Keystone 2024!


Aquatic Recreation in the West - Dispel Water Use Myths

How To Secure Support Of A New Community Pool

By Christa Plaza & Kristen Hodel - April 14, 2023

Aquatic Recreation in the West - Dispel Water Use Myths
Aquatic recreation in the West given the long-term drought, what is the future of pools for our communities? While the recent rain and snow across the West have temporarily eased extreme conditions in some areas, municipalities are heading indicators and implementing water conservation policies. For example, in 2022, Aurora, Colorado, implemented a new water conservation ordinance prohibiting nonfunctional cool weather turf in new developments. In addition, at the State level, the Colorado Water Conservation Board is developing a Turf Replacement Program to incentivize the voluntary replacement of nonessential irrigated turf. While these restrictions have not directly impacted our ability to fill swimming pools, our communities are wondering, are we being responsible?

As an architecture firm that designs pools and aquatic facilities, we take responsibility for working with parks and recreation professionals to dispel myths about water use for aquatic recreation. For example, at the 2022 Colorado Parks and Recreation Association annual conference in Breckenridge, four colleagues and I led a panel discussion on the state of aquatic recreation in the West.

Carol Cosby, Director of Parks and Recreation, Pueblo West Metro District, discussed navigating the impacts of water restrictions while planning to build a new aquatic center. In 2022, the Metro District underwent a water moratorium on new taps putting a spotlight on water consumption. As a result, the community voiced concerns over the amount of water needed to operate a new aquatic center. While the moratorium is lifted, fundraising for the facility remains underway, and distributing facts about the pool's water requirements is critical to the project's success. Carol is leading the effort to ensure the community knows there are far wiser water conservation options than limiting public pool access.

Swimming is essential to public health; to pull the plug (all puns intended) is irresponsible for public health. Drowning is the #1 cause of unintentional death of children aged 1-4 years, and public swimming facilities play a crucial role in preventing drownings. While only 56% of Americans have the five basic swimming skills, aquatics rank high on the community "wish" surveys (Swimming Pools in the US - Industry Data, Trends, Stats | IBISWorld). It is typical for parks and recreation swimming programs to reach capacity. 

Presenting the facts and relatable comparisons about water usage is vital to garnering support. 
One of the myths to dispel is that pools require too much water. The truth is that with proper maintenance and operations, a pool consumes considerably less water annually than is commonly perceived, far less than some other recreation amenities. For example:
  • A natural turf field in Colorado requires about 2.6 million gallons.
  • A 150-acre golf course takes 200 million gallons.
  • A typical 25-yard lap pool uses around 500,000 gallons.
For municipalities preparing to take the idea of a new pool to a public vote, a few best practices have been proven to increase the odds of passing a funding measure. During the CPRA presentation, panelists Scott Hickman, Carbon Valley Parks and Recreation District, Connor Riley, P.E., Studio Director, Kevin Post, Principal, Counsilman-Hunsaker, discussed pool water conservation best practices and community outreach. According to Counsilman-Hunsaker, pool projects that include community outreach average a 50% chance of moving forward;  those without have only a 30% chance. Plan for 6 to 12 months of outreach before going to voters with a funding vote and focus on presenting why it is worth it.

Talk, talk, talk! Get the work out to garner support. Information stations at high-traffic user groups locations, like, schools, recreation facilities, and grocery stores, staffed with informed and enthusiastic volunteers, quickly inform passersby about the benefits of voting "yes." Distributing concise talking points to be used in social media posts, local advertising, printed materials, and “town hall” meetings. Take the opportunity to dispel myths about irresponsible water usage. State exactly how much $ it will cost per household and the benefits that will be realized the list is lengthy and proven. Stakeholders are eager to engage in focus groups and provide a platform to understand concerns and wishes. Gain the backing of community leaders by inviting them to participate. Create customized community engagement tools to help bridge what is realistic while allowing creative solutions to develop.

For more information about pool design and to obtain pool water consumption facts, contact Essenza Architecture