The STAR Center

The STAR (Sport Therapeutic Adaptive Recreation) Center in LaCrosse, Wisconsin is a new recreational and rehabilitation center based on fitness and wellness equity in every facet of its design.

Individuals with disabilities are largely underserved in terms of recreation and fitness facilities. The STAR Center offers a full range of athletic and recreational endeavors including a specially equipped indoor track, basketball courts, therapeutic pools, a strength and cardio gym with adaptive equipment, all specially designed for use by those with disabilities, chronic conditions, or recovering from strokes or accidents. The Center will also be home to a pediatric physical therapy clinic, a wellness center with educational and job training programs, university classrooms, and a veteran center.

The design for the Center accommodates its robust programmatic needs while providing social, community-building opportunities for users. Three volumes compose the Center: an aquatics and fitness facility and a full-court gymnasium are connected by a glass atrium lobby. A wide ramp, connecting the lobby and the upper floors, provides the main vertical circulation for the Center. An indoor track wraps the entirety of the center, encircling the pool and fitness facilities, the lobby, and connecting to the main gym. Lined with glass walls, runners and wheel chairs can view both outside to the woodlands of La Crosse, but also look in on the activities in the aquatics center and main gym. From the exterior, runners and wheel chairs can be seen making their way around the track. The track loops through the three volumes binding the Center together as a cohesive whole, while also adding motion to common spaces.

The STAR Center is designed to be a facility free of the barriers that limit those living with disabilities from accessing the physical activity needed to regain or maintain health. By providing programming for medically-based therapy, community-based assisted physical therapy, and recreational activities all housed within a facility that those with disabilities can practically use, no user is disadvantaged by physical limitation.


La Crosse, WI, USA


Coulee Region STAR Association


River Architects, Design Partner


Civic + Cultural, Education, Research + Healthcare

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Project Type:Research + Healthcare
Project Location:Americas