Speculative | 2014
The triangular site of this Extreme Sports YMCA is fraught with multiple adjacencies and public flows, sitting between the boundaries of Boston's Financial District, Chinatown, and the Leather district and bounded on all sides by intense urban activity. This project seeks to develop these relationships by positioning the YMCA as a Spectacle Machine. In opposition to the Downtown Athletic Club as described by Rem Koolhaas, the Spectacle Machine seeks to escape the horizontally isolated layering of the tower and the slab, and produce oblique relationships between spectator and spectacle that overlap and rotate, allowing for a true intermix. The spectacle of sport is exploited to leverage relationships between juxtaposed programs, and to allow the street to act as a space of casual spectatorship to the building interior, allowing the urban context to participate in the interior interactions. Rather than dedicate pure zones of activity and spectation, each arena is at once spectator and spectacle, separated by a central rift--a void which provides enough distance to allow for spectation and to provide a spatial buffer between active programs. This void--the climbing canyon--becomes an orienting atrium, and occupiable vertical surface. Though the center is evacuated, the atrial void is finally programmatically laden. The climbing canyon is not only programmatically integral to its surrounding programs, but also functions as a structural shear wall integral to the support of the building, and as a light well to illuminate the often deep programs.