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On the Boards: Downtown Boise YMCA

The new YMCA in downtown Boise, Idaho, will be the cornerstone of an urban revitalization project comprising 2.5 city blocks. The YMCA project will be more than 100,000 square feet with a planned below-ground level, three stories above, and a design that will allow for a future fourth-floor addition. With its location along the busy main downtown thoroughfare of State Street, the building design is centered around transparency and visibility with the goal of serving as a neighborhood destination. The glass-jewel-box-like primary building forms are designed to highlight and frame the activities occurring within, while a sweeping entry canopy and expansive glazing will create a primary entry beacon to welcome the community.  

The recreational facility will include lobby and lounge areas, locker rooms, wellness/medical clinic, early child care center, family adventure zone/indoor playground, community/multipurpose room, community teaching kitchen, teen center/STEM technology center, group exercise studios, gym, aquatic center (three pools—  kiddy pool, lap pool, and recreational pool), classroom/conference area, THRIVE Center (high and low sensory spaces to serve people on the Autism Spectrum), staff/administration office space, and entry plaza.  

The design is focused on the YMCA mission of strengthening the foundations of community by developing successful youth, engaging people in healthy living, and instilling a commitment to social responsibility. As such, the design team and project partners continuously refer back to this mission throughout the design process. Utilizing universal design principles, the new building will be a “barrier-free” YMCA with a focus on inclusivity, accessibility, and the enjoyment of multiple generations. 

Cushing Terrell is providing architecture, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, plumbing design, and fire protection design for the project. Project partners include GRO (YMCA national design partner), who completed the initial concept layout and will provide interior design services; Axiom, who will provide structural engineering; and the Land Group, who will provide civil engineering and landscape architecture.