An Overland Park architect who was the lead designer for the New Century Fieldhouse near Gardner is a new member of the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
Bob Carlson was recently appointed to the fourth district seat on the JCPRD board by Johnson County Commissioner Janeé Hanzlick. Carlson attended the JCPRD board’s Feb. 20 meeting as an observer and plans to attend his first regular meeting as a board member on March 20.
“Our family moved here 17 years ago based on the strength of the community, schools, and quality of life,” he said. “We have enjoyed living in Johnson County and this is an opportunity for me to serve the community,” Carlson said. “Our family has taken advantage of JCPRD programs and parks over the years: youth sports, bike trails, the dog park, hiking, attending performances, fishing, swimming, and summer programs. Continuing to give those opportunities to our community is important to me.”
Quality of life issues relating to Johnson County’s built environment are of special interest to Carlson.
“I will be very interested in the Capital Improvement Projects particularly prioritizing needs and planning for the future,” he said. “I also am interested in sustainability in two senses: in using our natural resources carefully, and in creating operational sustainability for long-term use. I’m interested in finding the right balance of maintaining and improving existing facilities/programs while at the same time planning for growth and expansion. ”
Carlson has been a licensed architect since 1989. He has more than 30 years of experience as an architect for, as well as a principal in, the firm of DLR Group. Since 1990, Carlson has focused primarily on sports facilities, including professional, minor league, and community facilities. He holds both a bachelor of science and a master’s degree in architecture, both from the University of Nebraska, and is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and a LEED - (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional.
The new commissioner sees his experience in architecture as being very applicable to the JCPRD board.
“The real challenge of a building design is balancing needs of these diverse groups within the reality of the budget, project goals, and the specifics of the site. I think this experience will be helpful to the board,” he said. “My first goal is to simply listen and learn. JCPRD has experienced staff and an experienced board. I am eager to contribute, but understanding is a prerequisite.”
Carlson’s sports-related architectural projects have been many, varied, and located from coast to coast. They have included: ballparks, sports fields, conceptual studies, and spring training facilities for major and minor league baseball teams, as well as collegiate baseball and softball programs; collegiate football stadiums and practice facilities; soccer stadiums, and collegiate arenas, and soccer stadiums and complexes. In addition to the New Century Fieldhouse, his local and regional projects have included: an indoor football practice facility at Washburn University in Topeka; the Kansas Speedway; a soccer stadium for the University of Kansas City; and the Scheels Overland Park Soccer Complex.
Completed in 2011, JCPRD’s New Century Fieldhouse project involved converting an 88,000-square-foot warehouse at the New Century AirCenter near Gardner into a state-of-the-art indoor sports facility. One side of the structure is a multi-use sports area with courts for basketball, volleyball, and futsal, a five-man indoor soccer game, while the other side of the building has a 100-by-190-foot artificial turf field which can be used for soccer, football, and other field sports. The facility provides programming for all ages and a multitude of interests from fitness and health to arts and crafts, and includes an interior two-story space at the center of the building which houses offices, classrooms, concessions, and more. The facility also attained Silver LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council.
“It was a fun project to work on and I enjoyed working with JCPRD’s board and staff,” Carlson said. “I am very proud of the project and the way the community has embraced the facility.”
The New Century project is just one example of what he sees as a strength of the organization in serving the Johnson County community.
“The JCPRD staff, board, and county commission are willing to take bold steps when it comes to parks and recreation,” he said. “Meadowbrook Park and the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center are other great examples. It is exciting to ask the question ‘what will be the next bold step?’”