City receives top award for Auburn Community & Event Center

The City of Auburn earned a Spotlight Facility Award at the annual Washington Recreation & Park Association (WRPA) conference last week, receiving the highest honor for the Auburn Community & Event Center.

The judges were impressed with the innovative design that incorporated an existing building into a larger facility, the floor to ceiling windows in the community rooms that create the ambiance of sitting in a park while being inside a building, as well as the reclaimed wood from Les Gove Park that was repurposed into a piece of public art.

WRPA Spotlight Award categories included parks, facilities, sports complexes, special use areas, websites, posters, special events, and adult or youth programs.

“We are incredibly proud of our Community & Event Center and the many years of hard work and dedication that went into making it a reality. It’s an honor to have WRPA recognize that work and the resulting facility with this award,” Mayor Nancy Backus said.

Auburn’s 21,000-square-foot center opened in June 2016. Designed by ARC Architects, the building utilized the existing Parks, Arts & Recreation Administration Building, a 52-year old, 7,300-square-foot building that was renovated into The REC Teen Center as part of the overall project.

The Community & Event Center includes three divisible rooms with floor to ceiling windows for public and private events, classes, meetings, and celebrations; a classroom/meeting room; fitness room with cardio and resistance machines; a visual art gallery; storage areas; and the Parks, Arts & Recreation administration offices.

The REC Teen Center includes an informal gathering space for games and socializing as well as structured programs and performances; a Makers Space for teens to innovate, learn, and build community through the use of art, technology, science, and culture; a computer lab for homework, SAT prep, job preparation, videography and music; Youth/Teen Center staff offices; and a separate entry and reception area for when the facility is open as a Teen Center. Shared spaces include a lobby; a teaching/catering kitchen; a small classroom for programs and drop-in childcare; a fireplace lounge area; and outdoor terraces.

The facility also attaches to a 9,850-square-foot gymnasium that opened in 2011, creating an all-inclusive, 30,850-square-foot recreation facility.

“The facility has generated a new energy for the Les Gove Park campus by creating a consolidated multi-use, multi-generational campus that serves the diverse needs of Auburn’s community,” said Daryl Faber, Parks, Arts & Recreation director. “It complements the other facilities on the active park campus which includes the Auburn Senior Activity Center, the White River Valley Museum, and the Auburn Library.”

The center has become a popular venue for private rentals such as parties, trainings, meetings, weddings, family gatherings, and fundraisers and the community is also uses the center for their fitness and wellness needs. A fitness membership provides unlimited use of the Fitness Room and includes access to a variety of specialized fitness classes and all open-gym activities. The REC Teen Center officially opened as an after-school Teen Center in September 2016 and has been averaging between 60-70 teens daily.

The center is open Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. The REC Teen Center operates for teens only Monday-Friday, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m., select Friday nights, and for special Teen events. Spaces within the Teen Center are open for public programming when not in use by teens.

The total project cost was $9 million, with $3 million provided by the taxpayers of Washington State through the Projects that Strengthen Youth and Families Program and $6 million from the City of Auburn. The re-modeling of an existing building into the REC Teen Center provided a significant cost savings rather than having to build a stand-alone facility.

About WRPA

WRPA is a professional and public interest organization dedicated to enhancing and promoting parks, recreation, and art pursuits in Washington State. The annual awards promote and encourage innovation and excellence within Parks and Recreation and honor noteworthy contributions to communities around the State. Learn more at