Location: Cascade Township, Michigan
The Mary Free Bed YMCA is designed to be a community hub that supports children, adults and families with uninhibited access to healthy living. The facility is born out of a collaboration between The Mary Free Bed Hospital and the YMCA. Conceptually the project is designed through the lens of creating a model for collaboration, inclusion for all people, and Universal Design. This results in a place that is a platform for new/ innovative programming between Mary Free Bed Hospital and the YMCA - a one of a kind facility that promotes community interactions and engagement through serving all people equally. The Mary Free Bed YMCA integrates into its 36-acre rolling site creating locations for people of all physical skills to engage in sports. A unique amenity to the site and the community is the wheelchair softball field designed to support the growing wheelchair sports programs of Mary Free Bed. The site also supports a Teaching Barn as an extension to the Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center program housed within the main facility. This program educates on the benefits of healthy eating and cooking. At some time or another, most people find themselves challenged by age, language barriers, temporary illness or injury. The design of the facility embodies the goal of inclusivity. This is accomplished through eliminating all material transitions, connecting all spaces directly to the lobby and fitness areas, creating a ramp as the central way-finding/ circulation feature, and employing principles of Universal Design for color and accessibility. A large light monitor allows natural light penetration further into the building and aids people with visual disabilities. Through a holistic design concept and theory application, the one of a kind Mary Free Bed YMCA was realized solidifying the synergy between Mary Free Bed Hospital programs and the YMCA mission.