Green Bay, Wisconsin
Architect: Berners-Schober, Associates, Inc.
Owner: Tricia Shay Photography
Contractor: Immel Construction
The architectural context of Green Bay’s downtown area has shifted dramatically over the years. Revitalizing the newly re-named Ferguson Family YMCA serves the Green Bay community by preserving this piece of history for future generations. A nationally registered historic building, the project was completed with oversight from the Wisconsin State Preservation Office, and met the guidelines of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.
The Green Bay YMCA engaged in a process to overhaul all YMCA program and administrative spaces in its Downtown location. The design challenge for the project was to revitalize the historic, six-story recreational community center to position it for continued use as a YMCA, and potential future lease of its upper floors.
The project goals included a more open and transparent layout, updated locker room amenities and configurations, expanded program space and improved circulation. Exterior improvements included masonry restoration and roof replacements to the original 1924 building, and a modern adaptation of its 1967 addition and subsequent renovations over the years.
The completed project brings all entrance routes to a central location, and reorganizes the program areas for better way-finding. Opened sight lines between floors and program areas modernized the feel of the workout spaces while respecting the historic character of the building.
A key element in achieving both the connectedness and way-finding was the introduction of three-story atrium at the core of the historic building. The building had once featured a skylight to the center of the 2nd floor. A floor opening to the lower level expanded this to view the locker room entrances, while re-claimed former roof area provided better circulation on 3rd floor around the top of the atrium. A 320 square-foot skylight caps the interconnected views and opens the center of the building to natural light.
Working with the Department of the Interior’s guidelines for historic structures, the design team developed a plan to provide long-overdue maintenance and masonry repair to the building’s brick and split-faced stone facades, and replace damaged half-timber details on the older portion of the building. A new accessible lift was provided at the front entry to bring all entrants in to a common lobby, with minimal disturbance of the exterior facade.
On the interior, original stone fireplaces, wood paneling and trim were preserved in the lobby and newly positioned public meeting rooms. Construction and careful demolition uncovered over 5,000 square feet of original quarry and decorative ceramic tile, ornamental plasters and trims. Finishes and furnishings throughout the project are a carefully curated pallet of modern and historically appropriate materials and surfaces.
Functional spaces to serve the Downtown Y’s business community members and local families include new locker rooms, including separate family locker rooms, multiple class/education spaces, yoga studios, and expanded youth program areas. Free-weight, stationary and aerobic workout equipment users enjoy the two-story Life Style Center, which faces a two-and-a-half story glass curtainwall, looking out over the downtown. Housed in the formerly interior-focused 1967 addition, the curtainwall re-interprets the vertical lines of the collegiate Gothic building, while flooding the interior with daylight.
Photos: Tricia Shay Photography