Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White envisioned a recreational and educational facility in Chicago’s near north side neighborhood that would be a center for community engagement and provide a home for the Jesse White Tumblers, a program that he created in 1959 to serve disadvantaged inner-city youth.
We collaborated closely with Secretary White and the Chicago Park District to understand their vision of a facility that accommodates a variety of fitness and assembly spaces yet embraces transparency and openness, serving as a built expression of welcoming to its neighbors. Together, we developed a solution for a building that is inviting, energyefficient and, most importantly, a place where community members can thrive.
Our design of the 30,000-square-foot facility seeks to create a composition of shifting boxes with a high degree of transparency to enhance the connection to the community. The LEED Silver-certified center exhibits a fully integrated design approach resulting in the use of performance-driven, energy-efficient building materials and the optimization of centrally located utility equipment.
I have long envisioned a facility like [this] to serve the community. I’m proud to say that this vision is now a reality that will help improve the lives of all community members.
Illinois Secretary of State
The major architectural volumes, expressed in a warm copper tone and acrobatic shape, house a gymnasium and gymnastics facility with tumbling equipment and in-ground foam practice pits. The minor volumes, featured in a portal-type gesture with playfully colored glazing, host a fitness space, community meeting rooms and public computer labs. Administrative offices and a generous reception lobby welcome the public through their transparent façade and southern-exposed entry plaza. The upper floor is home to administrative offices and conference rooms, as well as a balcony overlooking the gymnastics facility.
We designed a vibrant community-centered space that promotes connectivity and enriches the character of its evolving neighborhood, serving as a beacon of hope and healthy living.