This addition to a gym in Providence, Rhode Island includes a children’s Health Center, a Dance Theater, a weight room, exercise space, storage and a complete renovation of the existing gym and locker rooms. Despite urban setbacks that limited the available footprint for new construction, the new building needed to provide separate entries for the Dance Theater and the Health Center and construct visual relationships between the indoor athletic programs and the exterior playground, a well-used public gathering place. Since the existing gym was a mute modern box with no public presence, an important part of this project was to identify and create an appropriate architectural character for a set of programs about the body and physical health.

The design organizes the program in a long, slender two-story volume of space. Oblique and transverse views across this space are produced by transforming the existing corridor-based circulation into an “open field” condition by programming stairs and passageways, and establishing spatial relations between the different levels of the playground, entry Lobby, Gym and Dance Theater. Instead of making enclosed rooms, the design accommodates the children’s Health Center with a series of interconnected cores which contain equipment and furniture formed around elements of plumbing and mechanical infrastructure. In this way, the design engages the “body” of the building (with its contemporary poche of plenum spaces) to configure the public programs.

Date: 2000
Status: Completed
Client: Wheeler School
Location: Providence, RI
Design Team:
Frano Violich, FAIA; Managing Principal
Sheila Kennedy, FAIA; Principal Consulting on Design
Eric Bunge, AIA; Project Architect
Architect: Kennedy & Violich Architects, Ltd
Civil Engineer: Searle & Searle Landscape Architecture
MEPFP Engineer: Wilkinson Associates
Structural Engineers: Odeh Engineers, Inc
Photographer: Bruce Martin

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