LATHROP – Eric Wohle walks through the lobby of the Lathrop Generations Center like he’s been there before.
A quick look around and he can point out where the lights will go. He knows the angles of the ceiling. He knows which room will house the hundreds of internet cables that are still being strung throughout the building.
He should – he designed it. As an architect with LDA Planners Wohle is the one responsible for taking a standard municipal building and converting into something that’s exciting, efficient and economical.
He gave the complex lines that were both muted and startling. He included colors that were both drab and eye-popping. He mixed the standard drop-ceiling with varying geometric shapes to give a unique perception of depth and staggered windows of varying sizes in the building’s round tower and front entrance to create a different – and environmentally-different – profile.
And when you hear him talk about it, you can hear a little bit of ownership in his voice. It’s the sound of a proud native son plying his trade and using his tools to create unique, beautiful additions to the communities that helped raise him into who he is today.
“I think that there’s a little bit of that village concept in there,” Wohle said. “I was a Manteca kid, but I came out here to Lathrop to play Little League because this is where the closest league was. I’d go play organized basketball in the gym at the community center because that’s where they played.
“I definitely have a bond with Lathrop too and I enjoy taking on these types of projects because it is a chance to give back to the places that gave so much to me as a kid.”
Odds are that you’ve already driven past a building in Manteca that Wohle or his architectural design company had a hand in designing or developing. The shiny new Manteca Transit Center on the corner of Main Street and Moffat Boulevard? That was his. The new City of Manteca corporation yard and animal shelter facilities? Both his as well. The HOPE Family shelter rehabilitation and restoration is also one of Wohle’s projects.
While there are other projects currently on his docket, seeing the Generations Center come to fruition, he said, is amazing on multiple fronts.
First, it was a chance to design something that was LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – certified and could take full advantage of natural light in a fun and unique manner. It was also a testament to the will of the City of Lathrop who was initially turned down for the State of California recreation grant would have covered the cost of construction for the building.
So they went back to the drawing board, came up with a plan that would add a dynamic skate park, the first public parkour course in the United States and a handful of other features to augment the initial proposal, and resubmitted. They secured $5 million.
“A lot of other cities would have just taken that first rejection and said, ‘oh well,’” said Wohle. “Lathrop didn’t do that. They added a bunch of elements that made the project more attractive, and it offers a lot more to the people who will actually use it.
“We tried to add features that are good for each respective use, and allow for overlap. The person at the front can oversee activity in both the library portion of the building and inside of the teen center – which has a wackier element to the design.
“To see it all come together is great. I think it’s something that will benefit everybody in the community.”
The finishing touches should be done within the next 30 days, and a portion of the LEED certification process is expected to take another 30. The projected grand opening is currently set for sometime in the middle of June.