Facility Profile - September 2009
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A Home for Squash

SL Green StreetSquash Center in New York City

By Dawn Klingensmith

Programming aside, the new facility's presence alone helps generate interest in StreetSquash. The New York firm Dattner Architects designed the building in such a way that it subtly yet compellingly aids in StreetSquash's public relations and marketing efforts. "When you're walking by outside, you can see into the courts, which creates interest and street buzz. It gives StreetSquash a presence in the community," said principal architect John Woelfling.

The sense of openness inside the facility is one of the design features Woelfling is most proud of. It's aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. "It brings daylight into the facility and creates a sense of connection to the outdoors," he said.

"It's important that from any one vantage point, you can monitor activity. There's a subtle security aspect to that," he added. "It also helps for a sense of community."

So, too, does the building's main stairway—a striking glass-and-steel structure that "gives a commanding view of the place," Woelfling said.

The stairway was one of a handful of high-impact design elements in an otherwise utilitarian facility. "We do a lot of public work where we don't have a lot of premium dollars to throw at things," Woelfling said.

To ensure these types of facilities are nonetheless unique and special, he works with clients to select a few splurges. Besides the stairway, the SL Green StreetSquash Center has artful, eye-grabbing lobby light fixtures shaped like giant beehives. The fixtures suit the space because a giant beehive of activity is just what the center is intended to be.

As StreetSquash participants rise through the ranks, college preparation becomes a key part of their after-school activities. They practice taking college entry exams, visit regional colleges and receive guidance from college admissions counselors.

But there's even more to StreetSquash than games and grades. Community service is another one of its core components. Each year, participants are required to participate in service projects, such as ladling soup to the homeless at the neighborhood soup kitchen or weeding the community garden.

In keeping with the idea of teamwork, StreetSquash emphasizes the importance of parental involvement to students' success. To that end, parents or guardians are required to attend at least three StreetSquash activities per year.

No sweat. Given everything going on at the new center, there's no shortage of options for parents to choose from.


StreetSquash: www.streetsquash.org

Dattner Architects: www.dattner.com