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The Coeur d’Alene Kroc Center


If you build it, will they come?
Some said no, but they were wrong.

The town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho – CDA to its friends – is known for lakes and mountains, skiing and golf, a world-class triathlon, and high-end resorts. CDA is not on anyone’s list of blighted cities, but in fact the economy relies on low-wage service workers, some just getting by. It is literally a place of haves and have nots.

In 2005, community leaders applied to the Salvation Army to be considered for one of the state-of-the-art, multi-use community centers funded by a $1.8 billion grant from the estate of Joan Kroc, widow of Ray, who made a fast-food fortune. When the Salvation Army said yes, the naysayers spoke up. A Kroc Center in our small town? You won’t get even 4,000 members.

Lighting Design Creates Magic Inside and Out

But you gotta believe, right? Otherwise you never get anywhere. So the project went forward. Working with Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture (BRS), Reese Hackman’s contribution was to design the facility’s electrical systems, including power distribution, lighting and controls, its low voltage infrastructure, and the audiovisual system.

Lighting the interior and exterior of a building used for everything from lap swimming to rock climbing to worship presents challenges beyond enabling people to see their way around. To address them, BRS and RH thought in terms of layers – ambient light to fill a space and task lighting for specific uses. In the natatorium, for example, indirect, glare-free lighting enables lifeguards to see the bottom of the pool. Finally, there is what architects call “sparkle,” lighting that makes stuff look cool – like spotlighting an unusual architectural detail or the textures and colors of the climbing wall.

The Risk Paid Off and a Community Wins

In the end, the naysayers were wrong. Even in a small, pretty resort town known for high-cost recreation, there are plenty of people glad for more widely available alternatives. When the CDA Kroc Center celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, it had 14,000 members, very impressive in a town of less than 60,000.

The success of the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene shows how welcoming everyone to gather in a beautiful place to fortify body, mind, and spirit can improve a community.