In their search for a location to build a new youth center, the City of Cambridge came upon an appealing alternative: acquire the site of the local VFW in exchange for providing space for the veterans’ programs in the new facility. The youth center would need a dance studio, gym, teaching kitchen, and classrooms. The veterans needed meeting space and easy parking. This combined solution expands the reach of the community center’s mission and provides an opportunity to link generations.
The design cleverly uses the separate program requirements to inform the plan via a center spine to bridge the youth center classrooms and the VFW. Along this glassed, two-story center ‘bridge’ are a range of classrooms with rotating wall panels that allow the spaces to expand into the central corridor. VFW function space is located on the lower level with its own entry and direct access to parking. Flexible multi-purpose space serving the entire community is on the upper level. The building’s scale and materials respect its residential location but proclaim it as a welcome vibrant neighbor.
Now an intergenerational facility, the range of flexible spaces offers a host of programming for students as well as the surrounding community. Clad in glass, zinc-coated metals and masonry there is a vitality in the exterior expression just as there is in the glazed bridge gallery. This building is the embodiment of blending young and old alike, into a harmonious and joy-filled public building.
This project successfully combines a diverse set of programmatic elements on a small site in a manner that is respectful of its neighbors. Internally, a high level of flexibility provides for a variety of ways to use the spaces. The informal social spaces are particularly successful in this project.Darryl Condon, juror, Athletic Business Facility of Merit Award