Architecture serves people. The environment you create can have a meaningful impact on the ways in which people interact, work and live. In the case of our Windy City Strength and Conditioning project, our job was not to create an environment or instigate a culture but instead protect it as we elevated the space to the best version of itself. WCSC, the first and most successful Crossfit gym in the City of Chicago has achieved its impressive growth through a very simple and powerful concept - build it and they will come. In their case, what they set out to build was not something physical. It was a delicate balance of deliberate intangibles that has created a tight-knit culture. They shared their dreams, their vision and their belief to #liveBIG with Chicago and a loyal group of members followed...by the hundreds.
Intervening into such a successful and delicate scenario was challenging. How does one improve and update an old concrete warehouse space without damaging the grittiness that the WCSC community holds so dear?
Our approach was simple: subtract, consolidate and redirect. As a first step, all unnecessary walls and partitions were removed in order to open up the space and capitalize on the daylight provided by a huge atrium skylight in the corner of the space. All training equipment was organized meticulously to maximize the efficiency with which the space was used by the hundreds who frequent it daily. Finally, the primary entry was relocated to a corner location where a preexisting roll-top overhead door had stood, virtually unused for years. This allowed us to create a clear entry sequence which helped to cleanly separate the important social components of the gym from the training areas.
Only one additive physical device was implemented into the space to help in redefining the entry and separating the two major functions of the gym. This was a clean row of five black boxes interspersed between the outermost row of concrete columns. These provided a physical threshold between places of rest and those of activity while serving functions in their own right (reception, children's play area, entry threshold, changing and meeting space).
The boxes were clad in industrial, gun metal black panels and furnished with reclaimed wood furniture and shelving.
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