Oak Park Community Recreation Center

Oak Park, Illinois
An Anchor for Future Revitalization

In a community with equity, inclusivity, and sustainability as core values, this new recreation and community center holistically supports Oak Park, a neighborhood just outside of Chicago, and is an anchor for future revitalization of the area. The center provides areas for fitness, gatherings, mental health support and after-school programming on an urban site.

The design expresses much of its program along the active street to the north, encouraging membership and inclusion while taking advantage of the indirect light. A three-level lobby, surrounded by diverse program offerings, immerses visitors in the heart of the facility.

The multipurpose center features a fitness center, indoor gym, walking track, and community meeting rooms. Free after-school programs for students, new offices of the Community Mental Health Board, in-take and referral services, and an esports lounge were among the specific recommendations from teenagers that were implemented as part of the larger community’s vision.

Triple-paned glazing helps meet the building’s net-zero goal. Arrays of photovoltaics on the roof and walls, as well as a canopy over the adjacent parking lot generate enough energy to exceed the building’s demands.

The three-story atrium is abuzz with activity and transparency. Sightlines draw attention to the array of activity options.
A state-of-the-art esports center attracts both young and old to compete and connect on the digital playing field.

The Park District of Oak Park understood that the community needed indoor recreation space, especially in a historically underserved part of town. Many of the amenities are available to residents for free, including the walking and jogging track. Low-cost multi-purpose meeting rooms support community and cultural groups, birthday parties, and after-school care. The facility gives children of all ages a safe and productive space before and after school. A child watch area helps single or busy parents find time for their own health, while providing a safe and creative space to engage Oak Park’s littlest residents.


The CRC supports the community’s goal to respond to the global climate crisis by exceeding the goals established in the Climate Ready Oak Park Plan. The building produces all of its energy on-site using building-mounted photovoltaic arrays. Portions of the photovoltaic arrays are tied to a battery system that provides resilience, allowing the building to remain partially operational during a power outage. Advanced energy metering and building controls allow the Park District to fine tune operations and monitor their progress toward the net-zero goal. Community members can see the energy use, energy production, and battery storage in real-time on a dashboard in the lobby.

The community embraced the integration of inclusive bathrooms, locker rooms, and a lactation room.

Project Team

Bryan Schabel
Brent Ross
Lindsey Peckinpaugh