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Oak Bluffs YMCA, MA



Situated among beautiful beaches, nature preserves, and historic New England villages, the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard is designed to create a centrally-located community center that supports the organization’s focus areas of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The first YMCA facility to be developed on Martha’s Vineyard, this new YMCA was highly anticipated by both the year-round and seasonal residents of this unique, island community. The new facility houses venues for many new Y programs as well as existing programs that were scattered at other sites around the island. Originally located in an old fire station, the new 38,000 square foot YMCA facility in Vineyard Haven, MA is equidistant from the surrounding communities it serves. Located adjacent to a local high school, community services center, senior housing, and ice-skating rink, the facility serves as a recreation center and provides a venue for social services for local youth. Envisioned at approximately 50,000 square feet when all phases are completed, the first phase of the facility includes an indoor family aquatics center, state-of-the art wellness center, group exercise studios, child development center, as well as teen and older adult centers. A gymnasium, indoor track, indoor climbing wall, and expansion of other venues are part of a future phase of construction. The 2-story building is organized around a main spine - around which all of the facility’s primary venues are arranged. Visitors can view all rooms from the lobby or main hall that make up the spine. Improved visibility and transparency from adjacent areas of the facility aid in improved security while adding further stimulation to this already compelling environment. The efficient design and shape of the building provides an abundance of natural light, allowing for a beautiful, natural aesthetic while significantly reducing lighting expenses. The unique design of the shed roof creates a natural ventilation system resulting in improved air circulation and reduction in energy costs. The 2-story glass windows provide a welcoming environment and impressive view of the surrounding pine forest. This aspect of the design helps to connect visitors to the lush, natural surroundings of Martha’s Vineyard. Focused on sustainability and with deference to the YMCA’s context, materials were carefully selected as all components of the facility, many of which were ferried over from the mainland. Recycled cork was used in the flooring and youth areas, while wood shingles were employed as the primary sheathing on the exterior. Composite materials and reclaimed plastics were used for the sills, lockers, and toilet partition systems. Wood decking used to create the ceiling is a renewable resource and gives the facility a warmer feel. White was used throughout the design to allowing the natural, green surroundings to serve as the backdrop of the facility. The color white in harmony with the abundance of natural light decreases dependency on artificial lighting. With the community and donors’ support, funding for phase II, the YMCA’s teen center, has recently been completed with construction slated for this summer.

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