The Boys & Girls Club of Worcester
With a grand opening in September 2006, complete with fireworks at the end of the day, the new 50,000-square-foot Boys & Girls Club of Worcester is one of the largest new clubs in the Northeast. It also represents the centerpiece of a $30 million public-private revitalization of the Gardner-Kilby-Hammond Street neighborhood in Worcester, Mass.
The design team incorporated elements of the city by drawing in Worcester's heritage, and by integrating the facility with the neighborhoods railroads.
Since Worcester is the birthplace of the American diner, it was natural to include a 1950s-style diner area for teens to sit and study, complete with checkerboard floor, tile walls and built-in booths. It opens up to a Teen's Lounge.
In addition, because this part of the downtown area is defined by trains and railroad tracks, with the rear of the building bordering the edge of an elevated railroad, the design team created a parallel "track" inside the club that acts as a major corridor connecting distinct program areas, with "stops" in games, sports and learning areas. The main spine, or track, is broken in the middle by the entry lobby. To one side are games and teen rooms. On the other side, there's a learning center and art classrooms. Across the corridor, kids find a competition-size pool and a gym with a high-school-sized basketball court.
The building incorporates plenty of glass. Exterior windows allow natural light to spill in, while interior windows bring a new dimension to the spaces and allow children to see the various programs being offered, encouraging their participation in a diverse array of activities.
The windows and ample natural light also highlight the use of color throughout the Club. Bold colors line the walls and floors, carrying the eye from place to place. In a facility designed for children, the color is appropriate and whimsical, adding an element of surprise.
Within the facility are areas devoted to sports and exercise, education and arts, and games and fun.
The pool and gymnasium are located side-by-side with the locker room in between, providing a simple and efficient plan. The wellness center is situated above the locker rooms and provides exercisers with a view into both of the larger spaces, creating the sports and fitness core of the building. All of the smaller spaces wrap around these areas to create a scale to the building.
The mix of preschool children, school-age kids and teenagers is unique in this facility, and it was important to ensure that everyone has a place to have fun with their peers.
Preschool children have their own gymnasium, which is a replica of Boston's Fenway Park. The gym has Astroturf flooring to mimic a baseball field, and a home-team dugout provides a place for the kids to sit. A scoreboard completes the ballpark look.
In another nod to the Club's history, designers incorporated a full boxing ring with room for spectators. Located on the second floor with the wellness center, the boxing arena spans between the pool and the gym, visually linking the three major athletic spaces.
Overall, the design complements and enhances the Club's mission: to promote the social, educational, health, leadership and character development of neighborhood boys and girls during the critical periods of their growth.