University of Washington Tacoma Y Student Center
Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.
-John F. Kennedy
This quote provided an aspirational direction for our effort to create a building that merges fitness, intellectual pursuit and community activities. The University of Washington Tacoma is partnering with the local chapter of the YMCA to jointly support community capacity programs. The many shared goals and values of both organizations provided an incredible framework for building community and providing invigorating programs and services.
This project simultaneously provides a northern gateway onto campus while extending Tacoma's urban fabric through porosity (both visible and physical) that activate the area around the site. Outdoor programming is also an integral component of this project's contribution to the surrounding context.
Synergy, integration, and flexibility were important drivers regarding shared use and the programmatic intent for this project. The UWT and YMCA spaces are intentionally intermixed to provide an integrative and diverse environment. To capitalize on flexibility and views we generated an open plan arrangement with rooms inserted against the grade transition. This spatial approach opens up three stories of available daylight and views that can spill through open areas and back to adjacent rooms.
The campus and this project are rooted in a reclaimed downtown warehouse district. The existing buildings are unique and varied in their expression yet they all tend to share a simple structural expression and rhythm occasionally interrupted by idiosyncratic elements. The Y Student Center façade uses alternating transparent and opaque enclosure systems to provide a visual porosity that is intended to engage both street and building activities and integrate within the surrounding warehouse neighborhood context.
This project was delivered via the Design Build process, exemplifying the University's creative methods to improve the built environment particularly in a challenging fiscal context for higher education. It was recognized by the Design Build Institute of America with a 2015 Design-Build Awad of Excellence and a 2015 Design-Build Award of Merit. The project also received a 2015 Merit Award from the AIA Southwest Washington Chapter.