Amidst a pastoral countryside comprised of rolling hills, old farmhouses, and aged stone walls sat the original Central Bucks Family YMCA, perfectly nestled into the landscape with its stone and plaster influences reflecting a historic, barn-like image.
Built in the 1970’s, and recognized with many awards for its design excellence in that period, the facility was now in dire need of more space to accommodate a steadily growing membership and Bucks County population.
Following the decision to expand the facility by roughly 30,000 SF, both the design and construction teams were met with the challenge of disciplining themselves to “make under” this once modern facility by taking cues from the forms of architecture that preceded them. With a nearby stone farmhouse used as the administrative staff ‘wing’, the goal of the new addition was to finely complement the earlier buildings, not compete with the handsome original structure.
A subdued and blended addition was achieved by incorporating angled roofs and exposed wood, both interior and exterior, reminiscent of the site’s context and the original ‘70s design. The expansion was built into the hillside employing the natural slope of the site. This construction into the earth resulted in an understated and low profile addition to the existing building.
The interior space further balances the tones from the exterior. The addition centers around a new family aquatic center that features a shallow area with playful elements for children as well as zones that accommodate swim instruction and water-based exercise for special populations and older adults. The aquatic center showcases glue-laminated wood beams, continuing the original expression of wood.
Contrasting the original design is a contemporary concept of transparency, the result of which are sections of the building exterior which appear to be peeled away with large glass areas revealing, through glimpses, this now modern-day Y.
Additional features of the expansion are two new multipurpose aerobic/dance studios, an expanded wellness center, new locker and family changing areas, and new administrative spaces. The renovation area includes a new child care center, renewal of existing locker room areas as well as transition of an aerobic studio into locker rooms, and a refurbished lobby complete with a fireplace.
A true testament to the prospect of a sophisticated repositioning of an earlier recreation facility model, this project allows the new, modern addition to blend nicely with the rural landscape and rustic YMCA built over 35 years ago in the countryside of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.