What began as a desire to expand, enhance and provide facilities that are more efficient for members of the John E. Alexander South Wood County YMCA ultimately resulted in a much broader catalytic project driven by the mission to support the health and wellness needs of the greater south Wood County region.
The YMCA collaborated with the Boys & Girls Club of Wisconsin Rapids and the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a community-focused, multigenerational facility. The project team identified and planned for an adaptive reuse of a failing, partially vacant and centrally located municipal mall property, further enhancing the project’s community value. Substantial value and savings were realized through adaptive reuse of the mall’s existing facilities — including the building shell, foundations, cladding and roof — to locate administration, fitness and childcare areas, as well as the Boys & Girls Club and VA Clinic spaces. The YMCA’s wellness center, group exercise studios, gymnasium, locker facilities, natatorium and central circulation corridor are all new construction made possible by demolishing several existing facilities.
The design features a central mall-like corridor providing a seamless connection between new and renovated spaces, while simultaneously highlighting the Y’s key amenities to entice prospective members. Floor-to-ceiling storefront windows on both the building exterior and interior showcase the center’s natatorium, gymnasium and fitness center. A primary entrance at one end of the corridor greets Y members and families, while a secondary entry point at the opposite end provides secure access to the Y’s Early Learning center. Respite spaces throughout the corridor facilitate socialization and connection.