Award Winner - May 2009
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A Fit Transformation

Urban Active Fitness At Taylorsville Road
Louisville, Ky.

S U B M I T T E D    B Y

EOP Architects
in Lexington, Ky.

Size: 67,364 square feet

Project Cost: $4.28 million

Quick Tour:

  • Indoor pool
  • Indoor track
  • Basketball court
  • Racquetball court
  • Cardio movie theater
  • Cardio area with flat-screen TVs
  • Women-only workout area
  • Children's area
  • Smoothie bar
  • Pro shop
  • Training facilities
  • Spinning studio
  • Locker rooms with sauna
  • Personal training areas
  • Group fitness rooms for yoga, Pilates, Urban Iron classes, Abs classes and kickboxing


hen it comes to extensive renovation projects, it's almost always tempting to scrap the plan and go with new construction. But that didn't matter to Urban Active—and Louisville-area residents are luckier for it.

Urban Active's Taylorsville Road location is the result of an ambitious adaptive reuse project that brought new life to a vacant building that previously held a grocery store. More than just a cutting-edge fitness center, the 67,364-square-foot building enhances the surrounding neighborhood by enlivening an empty and outdated storefront without incurring any loss of green space.

The remarkable visual conversion of both the exterior and interior spaces could not have been accomplished without a great deal of creativity and ingenuity. The project architects redesigned the front elevation, completely transforming the outdated external insulation finishing system into a modern glass façade. This skin, constructed of an aluminum curtainwall, allows natural light to fill the club, while allowing the energy and activity inside to be visible from the road. The dramatic exterior component presented a serious challenge for the design team, as the original front exterior, a load-bearing wall, had to be removed prior to the new modification.

"It takes quite a bit of vision to take an old box like that, that was a load bearing-type structure," said Mark Yates, director of development for Global Fitness Holdings. "It can often be cost-prohibitive to modify a structure like that, let alone to get a completely new look on that box. It has been so successful, and we're so happy with how it's turned out that we hope to do more."

The interior entry area opens to a lobby outfitted with a check-in counter, retail area, lounge space and smoothie bar. The feature wall behind the check-in counter and smoothie bar includes a river rock veneer finish, a metal water feature, as well as multiple television displays. The space serves as an introduction to the facility's energy, as it makes it possible to observe members working at the mezzanine level, which the design team added to increase square footage without expanding the building's footprint.

Movement serves as a major inspiration for the design. With this concept in mind, the design team made use of transparency and openness throughout the building, allowing the free flow of energy without interruption. Architects want club members to feed off each others' motion and activity, creating a vibrant and engaging fitness environment that motivates patrons.

"It is all about transparency and energy. A common theme that we have incorporated in all of the UA Fitness Centers has been to allow that energy to not only be shared internally but externally as well," said Rick Ekhoff, design principal with EOP Architects.

The design team separated the swimming pool from the rest of the club with a glass wall that incorporates a wave pattern, adding to the idea of motion throughout the facility. It also located the spinning studio in a sphere of corrugated metal, alluding to the shape and motion of a bicycle wheel.

No renovation project can be deemed a success unless it has community support—and Urban Active has plenty of that. During the construction and the grand opening, this club broke all sales records that had been set by previous Urban Active fitness clubs.


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

Very interesting conversion/adaptive re-use into a fitness facility. Bold architectural forms and use of interior color. I would like to work out here!

Tom Poulos

Great transformation of an existing building.
Simply, smart design that focuses on the needs of patrons and staff alike.

Bob McDonald

Nice exterior transformation. Great use of bold colors, graphics and materials. Good separation of activities, yet you can see everything.

Michael Pratl

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S


Global Fitness Holdings

Structural Engineer:


Electrical & Mechanical Engineer:

Adams Frazier Anderson Engineers Inc.

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