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bright, orange glass-clad stairwell sits at the heart of the vertical circulation. This page, clockwise from top left Massing

as viewed from northeast. A stone-faced projecting window box at street level creates a limited view into the pool room. The cornerstone displays the John 17:21 source for the Y’s multiple-meaning mission statement: “That they all may be one.” Remnants from the 1941 Y are on display.

strategically-placed white scrim panels. Locker rooms (two floors connected by internal stairs), cleverly serving both the first-floor pool and upper workout areas, are day-lit by a continuous clerestory band that limits views into changing areas. As a result, the metal-and-glass activity floors seem to float as a separate element above the stone base and recessed front porch. Interior surfaces, durable and unadorned, economically express a leanand-mean aesthetic appropriate to a health facility. Polished concrete and maple floors and tile or white epoxy-coated masonry walls were selected to stand up to the abuse of an all-age constituency. Glass and stainless steel partitions and railings increase interior transparency and light while, above, exposed galvanized ductwork and industrial lighting poke through a silver expanded-metal “ceiling” that helps visually expand available space. The implausibly serene interior, quite a feat for a high-activity building, comes partly from a fairly monochromatic palette derived from revealing the true qualities of the materials used. Strong, applied color is used only for wayfinding clues: lighted, high-energy orange glass welcome desks and the big orange stair. certification underscores the message that “Spirit, Mind, and Body” need to work together to produce a fully healthy person. The notion that a good exterior and a good interior exist only in the presence of each other is true for both people and buildings. Extensive energy modeling identified the most effective energy strategies and helped verify LEED compliance. Almost $200,000 in energy-saving investments provided a 28.7% annual savings in energy expenditures, a three-year payback. Examples include smart lighting: skylighting and daylighting controls work in tandem with high-efficiency lighting fixtures; smart water: lowflow plumbing fixtures and an ozone laundry system; smart mechanical: over-scaled fans move air to help meet comfort levels with less energy; and smart waste: a construction waste recycling program (90% diverted from The decision to invest in LEED

Members praise the new brand, new attitude, and new atmosphere in the new building, all of which support the YMCA’s age-old focus on the total person. landfills) and an ongoing recycling program that teaches good practices to its users. from the old Louisiana Street location, membership at the downtown Houston Y was just under 4,000. Today, after 19 months of operation, the membership has grown to over 5,000, with the ability to accommodate up to 10,000 memberships. It appears that good design does facilitate good business. Members praise the new brand, new attitude, and new atmosphere in the new building, all of which support the YMCA’s age-old focus on the total person. In this post-downturned economy, creating more with less (fewer construction dollars, lower energy consumption, and reduced operating expenses) is the challenge for our profession. Successful architects competing for available projects have marketed this message and have educated our clients to, rightfully, expect more from all of us. Kirksey’s new downtown Y delivers a design and execution that proves doing something smart for each sector — the spirit, mind, and body, or in this case, the client, the user, and the community context — is the same as doing it for ALL. In 2010, just prior to the move

Val Glitsch, FAIA, practices architecture in Houston.

7/8 2012

Texas Architect 55

Texas Architect July/Aug 2012: Healthcare & Wellness  

In this edition about design for healthcare and wellness, we look at good buildings of both types. But the role of architects in public heal...

Texas Architect July/Aug 2012: Healthcare & Wellness  

In this edition about design for healthcare and wellness, we look at good buildings of both types. But the role of architects in public heal...