East Oakland Sports Center / ELS Architecture and Urban Design

© David Wakely

Architects: ELS Architecture and Urban Design
Location: , California
Project Team: Clarence D. Mamuyac, Jr. (AIA, LEED® AP, NCARB, Principal in Charge); Christopher Jung (LEED® AP, Project Designer and Manager)
Design and Production Team: William Gordon, LEED® AP, Sims Key, Gerald Navarro, Rick Wang
Project Year: 2011
Project Area: 25,000 sqf (Phase I), 50,000 sqf (after Phase II is completed)
Photographs: David Wakely

To build a new sports center in Oakland’s Ira Jinkins Park and make fitness and recreation accessible to the low-income Brookfield neighborhood has been the city’s dream for more than 20 years. After San Francisco’s 2012 Olympics bid failed in 2002 and dashed plans to build an Olympic training center on the site, the city collaborated with to make the project feasible anyway, refining the program, seeking new funding sources, and breaking the project into two phases to build the core components first.

Site Plan

The first phase opened in June 2011, a state-of-the-art 25,000-square-foot community sports, recreation, and aquatics center. It includes a natatorium with an indoor leisure pool, a dance and aerobics studio, a fitness center, locker rooms, and a lobby. A learning/media center helps improve student academic success while also providing space for senior gatherings and community meetings. Future phases will add soccer and baseball fields as well as a two-court gymnasium with a suspended running track and a 25 yd x 25 m competition pool to replace the site’s existing Brookfield/Ira Jinkins Recreation Center.

© David Wakely

In contrast to the existing community center, which is relatively windowless and surrounded by trees, the new center is a glass building designed to provide extensive natural light and transparency and to invite people in. On the exterior, the use of flat and corrugated metal panels combined with concrete masonry and glass gives the building a civic presence in the park while blending with the light industrial context of the block. The project is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, as mandated by the City of Oakland. Green design features include thermal solar panels used to heat the recreation pool water, bioswales for stormwater runoff, high-efficiency mechanical systems, and recycled building materials.

© David Wakely

The design showcases the programmatic elements with highly transparent massing volumes. Three hues of low-e green glass, playfully placed within curtain-wall on the north, east, and south sides of the natatorium, maximize daylighting and views and give a shimmering, watery quality to the mass. During the night, the natatorium glows and serves as a beacon of community pride. The transparency allows for “eyes on the park” to improve security, draw visitors, and enable users entering the lobby to see the variety of activities within the building. As the building’s focal point, the lobby has entries on both sides so users can move easily from the facility to Edes Avenue or the sport fields.


Funding for the center comes from Oakland’s Measure DD bonds, Oakland Redevelopment Agency funds, a grant from the State of California, and East Bay Regional Parks Measure WW.

© David Wakely

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Cite: "East Oakland Sports Center / ELS Architecture and Urban Design" 13 Oct 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=175385>