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Stephen D. Persinger Recreational Center

Varco Pruden Buildings

You may think it’s merely a big barn, but don’t bet the farm on it.

The brand new 50,000-square-foot building surrounded by hundreds of acres of rolling parkland is not a farm house at all, but actually a recreational center that houses a 4,000-square-foot fitness center, a three-lane indoor running track, two full-court gymnasiums, an indoor playground, an aerobics/dance studio and four multi-purpose program rooms.

The recreation center also houses men and women’s steam rooms. Additionally, all Lifefitness Cardiovascular Equipment machines are equipped with individual viewing screens and are iPod compatible.

Some farm house, right?

The facility, which officially opened October 18, 2008, is the Stephen D. Persinger Recreational Center in Geneva, Illinois, about 40 minutes west of Chicago. It is part of Peck Farm Park, a 395-acre natural retreat that also features an observation silo, sensory garden nature trails, picnic areas, baseball diamonds and soccer fields, paved bike trails, a 19-acre lake and, in the summer, an outdoor butterfly house.

Something else that will surprise most visitors: the “farm house” is a metal building. From a distance, you’d never be able to tell. The structure was built in part by Rockford, Illinois-based Area Erectors, Inc., with materials supplied by Varco Pruden Buildings, Inc. (VP Buildings) one of the nation’s largest providers of metal building systems. Area Erectors is an independent authorized Varco Pruden builder.

The Geneva Park District, the managing agency for Peck Farm, was determined to preserve the natural essence of the park, but at the same time wanted to provide a cost-effective structure that could be built quickly, and be durable enough to house valuable state-of-the-art equipment.

“It is important that park visitors feel connected to a natural setting while also having access to the best facilities possible,” said Steve Persinger, Director of Geneva Parks. “Peck Farm Park is replete with old barns and a silo, so we wanted the recreation center to have a similar rustic look and feel.”

After months of concept meetings, Area Erectors and VP Buildings presented a design that was a perfect solution to the tricky challenge. The designer of the facility, Williams Construction Management and Architects utilized Area Erector’s unique plan to transform an industrial building into a local barn framework.

“Pre-engineered metal was the most economic choice,” said Frank Parisi, Associate with Williams Architecture in Carol Stream, Illinois. “The facility erection was much less expensive than if we had built the recreational center brick-by-brick, and this way we could still focus on smaller details such as paneling and special windows.”

VP Buildings provided the SLR standing seam roof, Vee Rib and Panel Rib wall systems, the FP-12 and Panel Rib soffit panel as well as interior liner panels in a Panel Rib panel. Even the products colors – cool colonial red, cool zinc grey and arctic white – helped tailor to the exact rural architectural design Williams Architecture desired for the Stephen D. Persinger Recreational Center.

The approach was also quick and effective because all materials were delivered to the site ready to be assembled. The project began in September 2007 and was completed just one year later in September 2008. The grand opening was October 18, 2008.

“The sheer quantity and complexities of the Steven D. Persinger Recreational Center made it unique compared to other projects I have worked on,” said Jerry Meister, Business Development Manager of Area Erectors, Inc. “The special window trim details, cupolas clerestory roof as well as the grain bin with a domed roof make this project one of a kind.”

“In my past experience, pre-engineered metal was utilized for industrial parks, maintenance buildings and other public works,” said Parisi. “The Steven D. Persinger Recreational Center was my first time to use pre-engineered metal for a community center, but I was impressed with the final results.”

So are the thousands of visitors to this new facility that is anything but a farm house.

About Varco Pruden Buildings

VP Buildings logoVarco Pruden Buildings manufactures steel building systems for low-rise commercial and industrial applications. For more information, visit

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