Located in the northeast corner of the District, the site is bordered by residential streets on two sides and a major thorughfare on the other southeastern edge. Watts Branch Stream flows through the site and westward, flanked by the Marvin Gaye Trail.

Project Name: Marvin Gaye Recreation Center
Architect Name: ISTUDIO Architects

Marvin Gaye Recreation Center By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet3 Due to this trail, the center is connected to an extensive community network.  Improvements to the trail at strategic “hubs” encourage use of the trail.  This larger network now has easy access to the recreation center and site ammenities.


Marvin Gaye Recreation Center By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet5 A 100 year floodplain encompasseS approximately half of the site, and a FEMA mandated floodway along Watts Branch Stream cutS the site in half.  This, along with majestic willow oaks on the northern half of the site, and a large practice field to the south of the site, drives the center to be located as close as possible to Watts Branch Stream.

Providing opportunities for connection is key to the site layout.  Pathways connecting the major a surprising vantage point for connecting with nature and with the happenings of the site.

Marvin Gaye Recreation Center By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet7 DESIGN PROCESS

The design of the recreation center was informed by the site challenges and opportunities: Raise the building out of the floodway, extend the form towards the stream, and then create a balcony to create a vantage point among the trees.

The pathway through the building was designed to enhance and encourage the user through the building, and out to the balcony for a new view of the site.

Art, natural ventilation and day lighting were all incorporated to create a healthy, inspiring experience.


The entire building is lifted out of the flood plain and deep foundations are constructed to ensure the safety and longevity of the structure.  In this way, the building is situated so to allow the heavy rains to flow into Watts Branch, mainting the health of the stream, while also allowing the facility to be safely above the base flood elevation.

A path through the building is clear and direct, leading users into the main space and up the gallery stairs.

Artwork applied to interior glazing is installed on both floors, creating moments of interest and pause along the journey.  Finally, the users are led onto the balcony where this time, the stream and surrounding trees provide the visual interest and pause.

Marvin Gaye Recreation Center By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet9


The screen filters the daylight and controls the solar heat gain.  This was factored into the energy model and is a key component of the building. It also provides an opportunity for signage and identity of the facility.  The screen creates layers of transparency through the building for the users.


A narrow footprint and interior glazing allow daylighting into all spaces. Light filled stairs and pathways and transparency into and through program spaces encourage users to explore the center.

Marvin Gaye Recreation Center By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet9


The building is situated to maximize daylighting and fresh air. Natural ventilation is encouraged via operable windows in the program spaces and automated louvers in the open areas. These are tied to exhaust fans that exhaust hot air out of the building.


Certification: LEED Gold
Required: LEED Silver
Energy savings: .5% above baseline

Daylighting and natural ventilation extend the use of this building in the event of an emergency, and also create a healthy environment for the users.


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