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  Riverside Park & Community Center Article Pg. 58Riverside Park & Community Center
Gora/McGahey Associates In Architecture, 43 Barkley Circle, #202, Fort Myers, FL 33907

Fort Myers, Florida
Total Square Feet: 15,223
Construction Period: Jan 2000 to Nov 2000

Construction Team
General Contractor: Compass Construction - 824 Lafayette Street, #B, Cape Coral, FL 33904
Structural Engineer: TKW Engineers - 12553 New Brittany Blvd., #32, Fort Myers, FL 33907
Electrical & Mechanical Engineer: Wadsworth Engineering - 6315 Presidential Court, #A, Fort Myers, FL 33919
Landscape Architect: David M. Jones Jr. & Associates - 2221 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33901

The East Riverside neighborhood of Fort Myers was originally settled as an orange growing area but was populated with single family residents in the early 1920's. The streets which followed the meandering course of the Caloosahatchee River, were built up with a collection of modest mission style and simple bungalow homes as well as more elaborate colonial revival houses.

As the city grew in directions away from East Riverside, the neighborhood experienced decline. Some homes were subdivided into rooming houses, many were absentee owned rentals. Pockets of incompatible commercial and small industrial uses began to encroach.

During the past few years, a growing appreciation of historic architecture and riverfront real estate has prompted a turn around. The finer examples of homes are undergoing restoration. The less desirable buildings have given way to higher end redevelopment.

When the City of Fort Myers funded the design and construction of the new Riverside Park and Community Center, the councilman representing the area was concerned that the design reflect the neighborhood's architectural heritage appropriately.

The Architects began the design process by photo documenting the neighborhood, street by street, cataloging the best examples of the contributing historic homes. The lessons learned formed the vocabulary for the design of the Community Center.

Nearly 10,000 square feet, the building is over four times the size of the typical house in the Riverside neighborhood, challenging the Architects to design a well proportioned adaptation of the prevailing architecture.

A deep porch articulated by trunkated columns surrounds the building, providing shade and outdoor activity space. Standing seam metal gable and hip roofs are massed to reflect the variety of scales of space on the interior and exterior of the building, while being a unifying element of the design.

Clapboard siding, a predominant material found in the Riverside neighborhood, was also used extensively. The proportions of windows and detailing systems evident in the existing architecture were also faithfully followed.

Other challenges included providing low maintenance, durable materials and systems. Riverside Park & Community Center is located directly on the shore of a mile wide river and is vulnerable to the elements. The neighborhood surrounding the new center is currently undergoing renewal and once again becoming a vibrant community.

Exterior Walls - Siding: James Hardie, Hardi-Plank; Entrances & Storefronts: Vistawall.
Roof - Metal: Berridge.Floors - Tile: Dal-Tile; VCT: Azrock.
Interior Walls - Acoustical Ceilings: Armstrong; Paint: Sherwin-Williams.

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