The new 115,000-sf Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA replaces the former 1941 facility (after feasibility studies concluded replacement was the best solution) and serves the needs of a revitalizing downtown. The design incorporates elements from the original structure and graphically tells the history of the YMCA and the Tellepsen family, for whom the building is named. Expected to achieve LEED Gold, this flagship YMCA is community-focused and supports the Y’s mission to create healthy spirits, minds, and bodies for all.
Such was the purpose and central design theme of the building — expressed through the 40’ curtainwall spanning the upper 3 floors of the north façade and showcasing the full-height YMCA super graphics. This transparency of form blurs the transition between inside and out, visually connecting the downtown community with the buzzing activity within. The interior spaces are open and free-flowing, continuing the transparency to allow views of multiple activities from a single location, all connected by a grand central staircase. The Window concept affords abundant natural light and expansive views to the Houston cityscape.
One of the iconic elements of early southern architecture is the front porch – equally important for its passive cooling function as it is for gathering family and friends. Though the new YMCA is obviously designed and constructed using modern technologies, the architects envisioned a “front porch” to downtown Houston, welcoming and embracing the community while nurturing friendships, facilitating meetings, or simply providing a brief respite from the daily hustle. Providing a café and outdoor seating for just these purposes, the two-story Porch is tucked underneath the upper floors.