As part of the Architect’s multi-phase, multi-year engagement with a global technology company in Cambridge, Massachusetts Merge designed a health center for the company’s burgeoning Kendall Square campus. The newly renovated space includes a gym, sound-proofed yoga and group fitness studio, a massage and meditation suite, on-site primary care facilities, as well as staff office, locker rooms, and microkitchen.
In keeping with the thematic program and motifs of the other office floors above the fitness center designed by the same Architects the design team was tasked with finding inspiration in the New England landscape in order to articulate the global company’s footprint in Massachusetts with local flavor. Sweat, steam, and rejuvenation found poetic parallel with the coastal tidal pools of the region. To this end, the plan is composed of pebble and pod shaped forms, the floor is materially immersive with incidents of intense color and light, all of which are balanced by the relative serenity of the yoga studio and massage suite interiors. The circulation that rings the building core reaches out between the pods in order to bring light and choreographed City views into the deep floor plate.
The poetic dimension of the design is undergirded by a significant technical effort triggered by the transition of an office floor in a 1970’s era concrete building to a fitness center with significantly expanded plumbing and air supply demands. In addition to this, the relatively low occupancy level of the former office floor now needed to accommodate assembly use functions as well as high weight load concentrations at certain gym equipment. In order to meet the new plumbing demands of a gym – showers – without impacting active tenants at the floor below, both locker rooms are elevated on raised floor systems such that floor drains are kept within the client’s leased space and work below the deck was kept to an extreme minimum. Concealed fire doors and shutters were integrated into the corridor walls in order to reduce egress distances as required by the higher occupancies without limiting the perception of relative openness and free circulation. In order to stiffen the concrete waffle slab, upturn concrete beams were cast on top of the floor so as not to impact tenants below and these in turn were concealed within wall thicknesses and behind millwork.