Project Category : Private Recreation
Total Construction Cost : $24,230,000
Total Gross Square Feet : 65,650
Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $369
How was the facility funded? : Private donations
The 1920s building that housed the Everett YMCA for nearly a century served as a cornerstone of the community by providing physical activity opportunities, educational classes, and hosting interscholastic athletics. As integral as the Everett Y has been to its community, the building wasn’t accessible to people with diverse needs and couldn’t keep up with modern demands. A new facility to serve this community was planned and designed. Located in a residential neighborhood, scale of a new 60,000 SF recreation facility was a concern of neighbors. To gain community acceptance, the facility design was developed to appeal to a specific context of place. Some material cues reference Everett’s history as the wood shingle manufacturing capitol of the world. To mirror present realities, a contemporary approach to the virtues of mid-century modernism was employed to reflect the predominant style of the surrounding neighborhood.
As a metaphor for uplifting the spirits of YMCA membership, exterior design elements took cues from aircraft structures that provide an uplifting force against the wind. For economy of first cost, field-painted fiber-cement siding was limited to the ground floor, installed in a large format shingle pattern easily accessible for long-term maintenance. Durable, low maintenance metal siding was applied at the second floor in irregular patterns to evoke the random nature of clouds in the wind. Functional relationships inside focus on connection. The centralized two-story open staircase provides a strong connection that draws attention to the skylights above. In each programming area, members can see adjacent activity spaces. From the entry, users can see community multipurpose rooms, the seating areas, and the pools, while the track is visually linked to the multipurpose gym, cycling studio, group fitness, stretching areas, and the outdoors. An abundance of windows and skylights bring natural light into the interior and offers visual connection to the outdoors a favorite feature of members and staff. Pieces of the original facility, such as a section of the gym floor, historic exercise rails, and the cornerstone of the original building, have been integrated as art pieces inside.
Informal gathering and community-focused social wellness programs were concentrated near the entry on the main level to encourage serendipitous interaction between members and staff. With views into the natatorium, the welcome desk is flanked by hospitality-inspired seating with a fireplace and coffee bar for guests. The desk form draws users into the interior core of the space, which features visual connections to the dramatic staircase and outdoors. Convenient placement of youth and children’s programs were given highest priority, as well as aquatics and group exercise spaces that would appeal to parents while their children are nearby. The interior design utilizes a natural color palette drawn from wood and concrete. Blue- and purple-toned YMCA brand colors provide contrast and energy to the natural color palette, while the long history of wood siding manufacturing in the area inspired texture and shapes inside the facility. All materials were chosen for durability and ease of care since YMCAs are high-traffic facilities. To allow easy orientation and movement between spaces, interior designers focused on visibility with glass and pops of color for wayfinding.
An exceptionally flexible programming space captures the functionality of interior spaces and theme of connectivity at this facility. The YMCA calls it their intergenerational space. It encompasses a series of multipurpose rooms that are connected by operable partitions and allow the diverse community to utilize combinations of these spaces in many ways throughout each day. Recent programming in this special space has included a chili cook-off, paint pouring class, and family movie night. A teaching kitchen, movable furniture, and operable partitions maximize the convertibility to fluctuate between four smaller spaces, multiple medium size spaces, and one large room.
The site allowed for an opportunity to treat stormwater as a design feature. Plentiful raingardens orient the siting of the building and respond to the architectural design. The building was sited to minimize broad expanses of exterior walls near adjacent single-family homes. The building footprint was then pulled as far north as possible to maximize southern exposure for outdoor activity. Angular elements are the result of orienting primary building masses perpendicular to the adjacent streets for maximum visibility to passing traffic. Based on community feedback, vehicular access to the site was routed through the most public-facing street and de-emphasized on quieter side streets. The resulting angles on site give a convenient path through native landscaping to intuitively lead pedestrians from parking areas to the main building entrance, while allowing stormwater drainage to be treated as a design feature in the form of plentiful raingardens. The facility has employed numerous sustainability features to achieve LEED Silver certification.