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Offering a much-needed neighborhood resource in an underserved area, the 45,000-square-foot flagship Pinkerton Clubhouse provides young people from disadvantaged circumstances access to educational and recreational opportunities in a safe, nurturing environment. Conceived as an institutional icon, the Clubhouse speaks an architectural language, in scale and vocabulary, that fits within the neighborhood. Durable, authentic materials clad the lower volume; translucent polycarbonate above becomes a beacon at night. Balancing the importance of visibility with the need for safety and security, the building is neither a fortress nor a glass box. It invites children to participate, and to be comfortable. The building’s spaces are warm and generous, yet the design lets structure–concrete and steel–be expressed and unadorned. Finishes are used sparingly, and always serve more than an aesthetic function. In the gym, CNC-milled perforated plywood panels provide acoustical insulation, but also become an opportunity for customized graphics. While most Boys & Girls Clubs are built on just one or two floors, this urban clubhouse is, by necessity, a vertical playscape. The building’s four stories are densely filled with state-of-the-art program spaces – gym, rooftop ballfield, education, music, dance, art, and technology–all tied together by a continuous, iconic open stair. Apparent from the exterior and interior, the stair connects all levels visually and socially. At each stair landing, color, graphics, and maximum interior and exterior glazing conspire to bring light and views into the stair and spaces beyond–and become bright expressions of the activity within the Clubhouse to the community outside.

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