The New Canaan YMCA had been in need of updating their aging facilities for quite a while, and with various health clubs and fitness centers popping up nearby, there was a pressing need to overhaul their antiquated building and spaces. While their mission is to provide a wide array of services to all age levels, fitness facilities are a major component of the Y and there was a growing need to remain attractive to new membership and competitive in the expanding health and wellness arena. In order to maintain membership interest in the near and long term, and even to help it grow, the Y embarked upon a master plan design for a major renovation.
One of the greatest needs in the aging building was to update the swimming facilities. The old, leaking family pool was the first targeted area. Along with the pool renovation was the need to update the deteriorating locker room facilities. What evolved from these needs was an elegant design that started at the core of the building. The final result is a light filled building core that is the new Café/Lounge with a massive wall of glass overlooking the new aquatics center, which includes a new family fun pool, and an eight lane lap pool. This new natatorium is south facing, filled with light, has high ceilings (more than 25’), and glass on three sides. All that glass gives the feeling that the space flows into the other interior spaces, and allows the outdoors to feel part of the interior pool space.
A new “Intergenerational Room” also interfaces the new pool space with an enormous wall of glass. This Intergen is a multi-use space for young and old alike, that serves as a lounge, a study hall, a lecture space, and an event room with catering capabilities. It too, has a large south-facing wall of glass that overlooks and flows out onto the new, spacious patio that can be used for lounging or events, or simply lunch. The glass wall on the pool space side allows clear viewing of the entire aquatics centers.
On top of this Intergen space is a new “Kid Zone” that is a tumbling, obstacle course play space for the young ones. Glass on three sides and a “pop-up” clerestory keeps the light and bright theme going.
New locker rooms, new lower level fitness spaces, including spinning and walking studios, and a newly renovated gym round out the other elements in this project. One key technique in this project’s design is that the viewing spaces were crafted so as to invite and inspire spectators to perhaps join in, or be inspired to join in on the activities they are viewing, be it the balcony overlooking the functional fitness studio, or the student doing homework on Café bench looking into the pool space, or the grandparent relaxing in the Intergen Room observing their grandkid swimming and spotting one of their own peers doing laps. The spaces are light and distinct, and yet they connect and invite users.
The New Canaan YMCA had been in need of updating their aging facilities for quite a while, and with various health clubs and fitness centers popping up nearby, there was a pressing need to overhaul their antiquated building and spaces. Arnold Karp