The company’s vision for CPBK was that of a flagship facility in the heart of what, with 2.5 million residents, is New York City’s most populous and, arguably, most colorful borough. The community has a rich heritage and a very strong sense of self, one that the architects and designers wanted to acknowledge and honor. They also had to deal with the constraints imposed by an existing structure.
When crafting the blueprint, Dan Fink, the principal of the Dan Fink Studio, who helmed the interior design, looked to Brooklyn’s industrial past for some design cues. As the home of such famous manufacturing companies as Brillo Soaps, Cracker Jack, Domino Sugar, and Eberhard Faber Pencil, the borough offered a rich palette from which to choose.
“We had to strike a balance,” Fink says. “We live in a sort of largely plasticized world, and gyms are often a primary expression of that. There’s something warm and inviting about a space that feels connected to the past—to a time before—while still being totally relevant and useful today.”
Dan Allen, AIA LEED AP, the principal of Allen + Killcoyne Architects, notes that the success of the approach is evident from the moment you stand in front of the club at 265 Schermerhorn St.
“In most city gyms, when you look in the front window, what you see is all the exercise equipment and sweating people,” he says. “Here, you’re looking in and seeing people working on their laptops in the community spaces, the art gallery, and that sort of thing. There was a very conscious decision to pull these items to the forefront as a way to further activate that street feel.”
In considering the design, construction, ambience, and function of the facility, Chelsea Piers focused most intently on three areas.
“The first was athletics—big cardio areas, great equipment, functional training, and so forth,” Tewksbury says. “The second was providing a boutique studio feel and experience in our five separate studios, which offer aerobics, cycling, yoga, hot yoga, and Pilates.”
The third was the creation of a community.
CPBK has addressed this objective in every aspect of the building, from the function of specific areas to signature design touches and even to the materials and finishes utilized. Several thousand square feet are devoted to a community space that includes work tables, soft seating, and the café area. Five large oil paintings by renowned New York artist John Zinsser are displayed in the club’s entry area. And there’s l created by New York photographer Clifford Ross.
Problems Prompt Progress in Dynamic Borough