Nicholas Feihel

Nicholas Feihel

Merrick, NY, US


Urban Wellness

The Brooklyn Wellness Center focuses on creating civic identity through architecture.  The goal of the project is to reestablish the body within the civic center of Brooklyn and bring back the fundamental ideas of the ancient Roman Baths. 

BWell brings together three programs based around the body: nutrition, fitness, and medicine.  Nutrition incorporates a nutrition clinic where an occupant can go and meet with their nutritionist, as well as demonstration kitchens, classrooms, Farmers Markets, and a cafe.  All of these working towards a more intelligent public health.  The major shift in design within this program is the replacement of what is normally retail frontage with nutrition clinics.  The demonstration kitchens replaced the ground level retail shop, putting a major push towards having an understanding of diet in everyday life.

The fitness aspect of the building literally ties everything together.  The running track becomes the main connection between clinics and the main circulation from ground level up through the building.  Along the track are spaces for other exercises including weightlifting, cardiovascular equipment, yoga studios, and classrooms.  The track acts as an element that is inserted into the building as a separate entity.  As such, the building must react to the existing parameters of the track.  So certain elements of the track pull out and begin to wrap around and become elements of completely separate programs. While at the same time the existing program pushes back against the track; pushing it beyond the boundary of the structure, as well as changing the dimensions and pushing separate program into the track itself. 

The idea of wrapping is the main design strategy of the programs.  The Farmers Market creates the large open courtyard in the structure around which the programs wrap.  This exposes the normally extremely private programs, such as the medical clinics, to direct view from the courtyard.  This makes a physical connection between these three seemingly separate programs.
The medical aspect of the building was treated as a minimal program.  While still a major element, it was pulled up away from the ground level, reinforcing the fact that intrusive medicine should be last resort as opposed to the first measure of prevention.  In certain moments, medical programs such as the Blood Clinic and the Pharmacy pull back down to store front level to maintain a level of presence in the community.

The facade system plays off the horizontal emphasis of the track system.   Its change in density and spacing is determined by the program adjacent to it and can start to pull into the building to become elements to further define the program.  For example it can pull into become examination tables in the clinics, or it can pull away and become shade and and tables for the Farmers Market.

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Status: School Project
Location: Brooklyn, NY, US