by Fawn Walton Pellegrini
JCJ Architecture is fortunate to be working with the Boys and Girls Club (B&GC) of Hartford on the design of a new club to serve children and families in the city’s south end. In our role as design professionals, the firm endeavors to bring the full range of experiences and lessons learned across all projects to each commission. In our work with the B&GC, we are applying sensibilities and strategies that we have honed as part of our education practice to a project that will provide a combination of after school care and supportive programs for neighborhood kids.
Flexible and Agile
When you combine B&GC’s well developed program of academic, social, and community activities with an open, exciting, and dynamic environment, incredible things become possible. As in many of JCJ’s public school and higher education projects, we are designing a space at the BG&C that will adapt to changing needs and operate on a nearly 24/7 basis. Classrooms, conference rooms, and hands-on learning spaces will be equipped with furniture and equipment solutions that will adjust to meet the shifting needs of both users and the outside world. We want to make sure that, as new patterns for learning and interaction begin to emerge, the facility can seamlessly adjust to the needs of club members, volunteers, and professional staff.
Space as an Equalizer
For many of the club’s members, this facility will be a destination, and for some a safe haven. Creating a safe, engaging, and welcoming environment is crucial for youth to be able to connect with the club and think of it as a second home. Like many K-12 schools, functions within the building will be zoned; particular attention has been paid to adjacencies and strategies that support constant visual supervision. JCJ’s goal was to create a harmonious environment by combining natural light, colors, textures, sounds, and forms with meaningful spatial characteristics. From the club’s central game room/commons to the tech rooms, lounge, arts, and TV recording and performance studio, our goals were to create activated spaces that support productive interactions and positive self-image.
Leverage Every Dollar
In design for education, we are always looking to be good stewards of taxpayers’ funding. For a project such as the B&GC where every dollar saved is a dollar that goes directly toward the B&GC mission, we have flexed those skills to the utmost. JCJ has been fortunate to work with BBE as construction manager for this project. From strategic repositioning of ductwork in order to decrease linear footage, to specifying as-equal manufacturers, to strategic decisions about foundations and glazing, the team has come together in an incredible way, working through the details in order to contain and decrease costs without cheapening the building or diminishing the design intent.
In the summer of 2021, the Boys and Girls Club of Hartford’s Southend Club will open its doors and begin serving 1,500 children with homework support, college and career skill building, leadership and service programs, continuing education classes for high school diploma, and a full range of sports, recreation and wellness programs.
Fawn Walton Pellegrini, RA, LEED AP is senior project manager and studio leader at JCJ Architecture.