PLEASANT HILL -- Eager teens peered through angular windows for a glimpse of the place they can call their own early Saturday morning.

The new 4,900-square-foot Teen Center opened with a performance by College Park High School cheerleaders and ceremony thanking those who helped bring a portion of the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District's 2009 bond measure plans to fruition.

The innovative center provides a place for supervised after-school fun, help with homework, computer access, parties, local bands, enrichment classes and more.

"I am so thankful to the community for giving us the opportunity to create this amazing place for our kids," said Katrina Hunn, recreation supervisor for teen programs and special events. "We have always wanted to have an after-school program for middle school kids and a place for events.

"It's very fresh, new, open and light. The furniture is inspired by what the teens liked," Hunn said. "They wanted comfortable, not plastic, and something that felt homey and 'loungy'. Plus it had to be furniture that will last a long time."

Eighth-grade Valley View Middle School students Sidney Helberg and Marisse St. Marsielle confirmed that thought, admiring the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows and digitally inspired furniture fabrics.

This is not just any teen hangout, although it is a place for peers to relate. Architect Steve Harriman of Harriman Kinyon Architects, Inc. configured a building that stands out, while comfortably fitting into the cluster of use-based recreational centers at the 147 Gregory Lane site.


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"We really wanted it to read, 'teen,'" Harriman said.

Contractor Kurt McFadden of McFadden Construction completed the project at an estimated cost of $3.4 million. However, bond funds may only be used for buildings, not interior furnishings such as furniture and equipment. A $64,000 grant for furniture from HEDCO Foundation kicked off community efforts to raise the $160,000 needed to outfit the entire Teen Center.

Recreation District general manager Bob Berggren specifically thanked HEDCO, Critical Solutions Inc. (project management), Diablo Vista Soroptimists and the Cotruvo and Wilson family.

The Teen Center provides access to meeting space, outdoor space and the swimming pool area. It can be divided by a hidden wall to create a separate class, conference or party room, and is also predicted to be a popular rental venue for special occasions.

Random, free-form triangular patterns and angles are repeated throughout the structure and furnishings, thanks to interior designer Beverly Moris.

"With a public building, you only get to do it once. You have to get value for the public dollar and make it beautiful," Moris said. "I draw my inspiration from the architecture and I wanted it to celebrate being a teen."

The impermeable textile flooring is one of the most utilitarian elements, which can be cut into any shape, is comfortable to sit on, absorbs sound and is very cost-effective, she said. The floor covering design also allows a damaged piece to be removed and replaced seamlessly.

The mobility and fabric durability of the furniture is another major feature. After receiving input from the teens and necessary official approval for two interior design plans, the final design choice was left to the Teen Council.

Moris said she is gratified to see a community willing to invest in a stand-alone building for teens. "It sends a (positive) message. It may be the only one in Contra Costa County."

The center is also unique because it, and the other recreational facilities in Pleasant Hill are not run by the city of Pleasant Hill, but by the recreation district, which was founded before the city's incorporation.

Kids who flowed into the center as soon as it opened were probably unaware that a Teen Center was originally not on the recreation district board's list of priorities.

Board secretary Sherry Sterrett said they were focused on a Community Center and new Senior Center, but the community survey showed that residents had even more interest in a Teen Center.

Teen activities and participation had been limited by the size of the old records room where they previously met, said Hunn.

She is looking forward to providing free, safe, fun after middle school activities on a drop-in basis for up to eight hours a week. (Visit phteenscene.com for details or call 925-682-0896.)

Park Superintendent Lynn Spatz said she likes the functionality of the space and that there will be a designated space for all of the major programs when the Senior Center and Community Centers are complete.

Spatz echoed Contra Costa County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff's comment, "I wish there was something like this when I was growing up here."

Valley View sixth-grader Jack Pineda is just glad to have the Teen Center now.

"I will come after school and maybe meet some new people or get help with homework and have fun," he said.

Recreation board chairman Dennis Donaghu, California Special District Association vice president Stan Caldwell and Pleasant Hill City Councilman David Durant helped celebrate the opening, which was sponsored by Pleasant Hill Rotary, Allied Waste, Grocery Outlet, Pleasant Hill Coin and Jewelry, Safeway and Sue Danhesel, Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Contact Dana Guzzetti at dguzzetti10@gmail.com or call 925-202-9292.