For the past two years, the YMCA of Metro Chicago has trusted Partners by Design to provide architectural design services and creative innovation during their relocation from The Lawson House, their headquarters since 1931. They set their sights on a 7-story building in the West Loop, a 60,000 square foot heavy timber loft structure that had fallen into neglect and disrepair after years of limited, partial occupancy, and minimal operational maintenance.
Thus began the long collaborative journey between The Y and PBD in creating their newly completed flagship location. The facility is built to support the decades of its future history—a laboratory space promoting all of the YMCA’s brand, its mission, and its values, while forefronting flexibility and adaptability to educate and foster collaboration within the community.
It was neither an easy task nor one that was taken lightly considering the mission of The Y: developing strong children, families, and communities across Metropolitan Chicago through academic readiness, character development, violence prevention, fitness, and healthy living. But it’s that same mission that guided Partners’ intuitive, architectural infusion into the environment and culture of the new headquarters facility.
How did PBD do it? By simply listening. CEO Richard Malone wanted this project, this structure to be a “living organism,” a place that would truly represent the great things and the great impacts in people’s lives that The Y makes every day. Alongside Partners, this “living organism” dream has come to fruition, as an ideal space for promoting the YMCA’s mission, and now a real place for community gathering, education, training, and healing.
Tom Harris Architectural Photography