YMCA, Extreme Sports Community Center 2014

Second-Place, Phase II
Rotch Travelling Fellowship

The Downtown Athletic Club was a product of the highrise typology, and as described by Koolhaas, architecturalized the personal evolution of its inhabitants. “Metropolitanites” separated from the rest of humanity, they traveled randomly by elevator, alighting at horizontal planes of program, before realizing their full potential in isolation at the upper residential floors.

By contrast, the YMCA’s mission is to strengthen ties to the community and create opportunities for individual and collective growth. Rather than strata of program, the Extreme Y truly merges activities of the hostel and athletics program at each level.

Lifted corners at each floor plate allow for connection between the constituents (athletes, hostelers, and the public) and allows fluid transformation between them. This consistent formal move creates opportunities at various scales. Urbanistically, it allows the Y to express an iconic form, while providing slippage at Chauncy and Essex. Similarly, it draws in visitors through an exterior atrium and into the building lobby.

The same strategy is employed within to provide climbing walls and grandstands for athletic events. Most importantly, these angled planes allow views through the building to other simultaneous activities. Instead of enclosing each space, the Extreme Y provides ample opportunity for socializing and mingling.