Breaking Down a Big Box, Building Up Community

Rush County Recreation, Education, & Collaboration Center

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Rush County, IN | 63,740 sf

When a big box store vacates a site, it can leave behind a gaping hole in the local economy and an empty building that wasn’t designed to serve the community. Rush County leaders saw an opportunity to transform a retail albatross into an asset.
Open and airy, with plenty of natural light, the Main Street experience at Rushville REC promotes socializing and program cross collaboration. Main Street connects to the different programs within the building so visitors can easily see all the amenities and program available.

Rush County’s new Recreation, Education, and Collaboration (REC) Center is designed to promote connectivity, growth, and togetherness by collocating vital social, economic, and physical community services. Organized around a central zone called Main Street the project uses the building’s large, open volume to provide a welcoming public space that allows visitors to see everything REC offers, including the Rushville Public Library, the Rush County Community Assistance Food Pantry, a new childcare center, shared office space for social service agencies, and a fitness center with a family pool and basketball court.

The new REC center will house an expanded public library.
Amenities include a family fitness center and pool.
Artboard 1

The beauty of this type of facility is that it can change over time. The Main Street design opens the door to where a lot of partnerships can thrive.

Artboard 1 copy
- Dan Moster, Rush County REC Steering Committee

To help bring new life to the exterior of an abandoned Walmart store, we’re updating the façade, creating a new entry canopy, and transforming the parking lot into a public plaza. These changes are designed to help change public perception about the building and create a new narrative about its place in the community. Façade improvements will also enhance the thermal efficiency of the center; by increasing the amount of natural daylight coming into the building we’re creating a more uplifting environment while helping to reduce lighting loads.

A former parking lot becomes a new social plaza to enjoy all year.

In towns of all sizes, ghost retail buildings offer opportunities to take advantage of the embodied carbon in an existing building while adding new amenities, value, and community connection.

For more about our work on the REC Center, read our insight here. Read more about our adaptive reuse projects here.

Childcare will be available at the new Rushville REC Center.