Crunch Fitness North & Sheffield
By name and reputation alone, Crunch Fitness represents one of the hippest of workout options.
The corporation's Chicago flagship facility, however, has taken the hip quotient to an entirely new level with a 46,000-square-foot facility that occupies three floors of a new mixed-use development.
With its innovative design, the club targets a young, professional clientele. The facility's amenities include a juice bar, swimming pool, multipurpose studios, general workout areas and a boxing ring.
The club's top floor boasts a yoga studio and relaxation area, which are located adjacent to a private outdoor sun deck overlooking the Chicago skyline.
"It's just a cool location," Crunch spokesperson Amy Strathern says. "It's not just your standard gym with exercise equipment all lined up—it's fun."
From the moment guests walk in the door, they know they're in for a special experience. The entry, which is located on the building's third floor, requires prospective members and juice bar patrons to be drawn up through the building atrium to the club entrance. This is accomplished with a dynamic architectural solution that includes a backlit juice bar and entry desk, as well as glimpses of the wood and steel angular grand stairs.
"Because it was Crunch Fitness, the design emphasis was fun, interesting and exciting," says architect Brian Jack of Cannon Design. "Crunch gave us the latitude to do something a little more out there, a little more avant-garde."
The lobby backdrop features Crunch's signature element, the peek-a-boo shower. A portion of locker room shower stalls are located behind a double-frosted glass wall providing silhouetted views of willing club patrons.
The feature helps trumpet the club's motto, "No Judgments." While typically one or two of theses showers are tucked into alcoves of other Crunch locations, the design here puts them front and center.
The tasteful treatment—which has an undeniably fun, burlesque feel—is heightened with the introduction of color-changing fiber-optic edge-lighting at the glass and a velour theater curtain surround.
"Our niche is fusing entertainment with fitness, and this gym really embodies that," Strathern says. "It really brings to life the Crunch philosophy of making fitness fun."
The club environment strikes the perfect balance between an entertainment venue and a workout facility. Spaces are designed to maximize views throughout the club and provide efficient, energetic workout spaces with architectural drama.
Sculptural spaces such as the living room were designed to provide a comfortable setting for club members to meet and hang out. The steam and sauna rooms off the stainless-steel lap pool are tucked into an indoor grotto complete with stone walls and a vine-covered ceiling.
The massage room is clad in white translucent panels with color-changeable lighting, allowing clients to personally select a color best-suited to their mood. The soft glow seen through the panels indicates when the room is in use.
Throughout the entire building, the interior spaces are linked with origami-like wall and ceiling forms painted a vibrant yellow. The repetition of form, color, graphics and materials unify the club and meet Crunch's aim of creating a hip, distinctive look consistent with its brand identity.
The club's design success is reflected in attendance levels and community appeal. Creative design, in combination with attention to detail and responsiveness to the owner's cost, combine for a winning addition to Chicago's near north side.
"There are a lot of choices in health clubs out there," Jack says. "And good design can be the thing to put you over the top."
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