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54D NYC Flagship Gym Opens in Manhattan

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54D NYC Flagship Gym Opens in Manhattan

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Wesbuilt Construction Managers and Miami Beach, FL-based architectural firm THIRLWALL have completed a $2.2 million renovation and fit-out of the ground floor of 125 West 25th Street, a 12-story commercial building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, as the location of the New York flagship fitness club of 54D, the international fitness brand headquartered in Mexico City.

54D owner Rodrigo Garduño and his U.S. team worked closely with Wesbuilt and the design team to ensure that the new project reflects the corporate aesthetic that immediately makes each 54D studio recognizable. With original locations in Mexico City and Bogotá, Colombia, 54D recently expanded to Miami and Coral Gables, Florida, and is developing plans for an additional site in New York City as well as in Los Angeles, California. The third Florida location, in Hallandale, is scheduled to open in early 2024.

“We are a global fitness brand dedicated to human transformation through physical, mental and emotional changes in every participant. This new space will enable us to expand the program to include new members in New York City,” said Rodrigo Garduño, the founder and creator of 54D. “Our initial program consists of 54 days of high intensity training, nutrition, and recovery, all under the supervision of encouraging trainers,” he added.

“As a brand, we always invite our members to get out of their comfort zones. Opening our studio in New York City was the next step for us as a brand to lead by example and get out of ours!” shared Omar Yunes, 54D’s CEO. “We believe that what we bring in terms of community building and the tools that we use to help our members achieve their goals is something that resonates anywhere and with everyone, since we all have the same needs, wants, fears and joys.”

“Wesbuilt is very familiar with the construction challenges inherent in building training and fitness facilities in urban locations,” explained Mark Galway, Wesbuilt Principal. “Completing this new 7,000-square foot studio, our first project for this brand, required specialized skills from the design and construction team, including designing and installing extensive noise mitigation solutions. We are proud to have delivered this project four weeks ahead of schedule to help 54D successfully launch its New York City’s flagship location.”

In addition to Wesbuilt and design architect THIRLWALL, the project team included executive architect Mija Architecture; acoustical consultant Criterion Acoustics; MEP engineer NY Engineers; and owner’s representative Stys Hospitality Initiative.

54D Brand

Former professional soccer player Rodrigo Garduño founded 54D in Mexico City in 2012 and expanded to its first US location in 2019.

“The original 54D fitness concept is a nine-week, 54-day program based on three pillars – training, nutrition, and recovery – that are supported by a community. Each group class is termed a ‘generation’ and community building among coaches and other generation participants is crucial to build accountability, support, and perseverance among the members of the cohort,” shared Yunes. “Over the past 11 years, our brand has evolved to expand this concept into shorter programs, starting at two weeks, as well as hybrid models using our 54D ON online program, which is currently used in over 90 countries.”

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) focuses on improving body weight and functional movement by incorporating cardio stair routines, bikes, punching bags, and dumbbells into the training regimen. The schedule includes daily hour-long training sessions, stretching and recovery sessions, and nutritional guidance. In addition to the training and recovery areas, each location includes a social area in which classes can gather with their coaches to build supportive relationships. The goal of the program is to educate members, many of whom are self-employed successful professionals in their 20s and 30s, so that they will continue their new lifestyle after completion of the initial sessions. 54D is currently enrolling Generation 93 into the program.

Location Search

Intense stimulating music provides an essential backdrop to 54D’s exercise sessions. The potential for loud noise drove the Manhattan site selection process. “Several potential locations were reviewed to determine the feasibility of renovating the space to meet the sound mitigation requirements of the New York City Building Code. Finding the right location took over 18 months due to the very specific needs required to build our training room. We also wanted a central location that would become a destination, rather than just a neighborhood studio,” shared Yunes.

“The configuration of the Chelsea space allowed for proper sound isolation,” continued Yunes. “In addition, the neighborhood is positioned near midtown and there is a concentration of fitness studios nearby, referred to as a ‘Fitness Alley’ – although not on this block – that draw a fitness crowd to the area.”

The new space is narrow at the street front and extends deep into the building, and is not easy to fill with tenants. The property owner AFIAA felt that the value of the building would be enhanced with the addition of 54D as a tenant and has agreed to a 10-year lease. Sound attenuation requirements were incorporated into the lease terms. “AFIAA, our landlord at the Chelsea location, has been very understanding and supportive of our concept and the time it would take to mature into a staple of not only this neighborhood, but the city itself,” said Yunes.

The construction of the new studio included many challenges to meet schedule and sound attenuation requirements. “Wesbuilt worked with the design team to provide creative, adaptive solutions that enabled 54D to open this location ahead of schedule,” said Galway.

Design

The initial 54D locations in Mexico City and Bogotá were freestanding structures designed with an industrial aesthetic that incorporated shipping containers, exposed metal and unfinished concrete. When Garduño decided to expand to the US, he chose THIRWALL as the design architect to create a brand image for new locations throughout the country.

As THIRWALL Lead Designer Thomas B. Seibt explains, “It was important to position 54D as a high-end brand, so the original industrial theme had to be supplemented with materials that could be perceived as belonging to a more elevated aesthetic.” THIRWALL created a design palette that still uses industrial materials, but they are of a high quality finish grade that includes powder coated corrugated and diamond plate metal panels, painted OSB boards, and polished concrete. Black wall and floor finishes highlighted with signage and accents in yellow and white provide striking visual interest. These finishes were incorporated into two Florida locations, in Miami’s Design District and Coral Gables.

The Florida studios are located in existing one-story storefronts in low-density urban settings, where THIRWALL altered the façades to visually correspond with the surrounding buildings. The Coral Gables location combines stucco at the lower facade with a striking horizontal ribbed industrial panel framed in limestone that relates the shipping container vernacular to the surrounding Mediterranean-revival buildings. In Miami, a multi-faceted façade in geometric blocks of black, white, and grey mirror the contemporary theme of the Design District.

The new West 25th Street studio in Manhattan represents the brand’s first location in a multi-story building and a high-density urban area, and the design was developed as a prototype for future similar sites. The landlord did not permit façade work, so the architect maintained the existing full height glazed storefront exterior wall to permit passerby to have clear views into the space and allowing the studio to claim its place in the neighborhood.

The high visibility approach had to take into account the high noise level in the training rooms combining the sounds from sub-woofers that play stimulating music and vibrations from the exercise equipment. “The studio layout had to be modified to meet local sound attenuation requirements,” explains Nabil N. Mijalli, Principal with Mija Architecture, who served as Executive Architect. “The New City Building Code has stringent regulations regarding the transmission of sound between units in multi-story buildings as well as between businesses and the sidewalk outside.” In order to minimize ambient noise, the studio layout was altered to place the fitness room at the rear and the community area at the front of the space. In addition, THIRLWALL and Mija worked closely with acoustical consultant Criterion Acoustics to develop construction details that would contain the noise within the studio.

The studio is entered through a glass and aluminum frame storefront. The initial 850-square foot lobby area includes a reception desk, a small merchandising area, and a social area. Two double loaded corridors lead from the lobby toward the 2,500-square foot training room at the rear of the space. The right corridor is lined with recovery and massage rooms outfitted with Human Touch massage chairs and Game Ready hot and cold compression boots. The left corridor starts at a glass-walled manager’s office facing the lobby and continues past nutritionists’ offices, locker rooms, and a media room used to interview members and review their progress.

The industrial warehouse design vernacular that represents the 54D brand identity is reflected in the finishes used throughout the studio. Gypsum board walls, open ceilings, and exposed ductwork are painted in Benjamin Moore Racoon Fur 2126-20, a light black shaded with violet. Flooring in the lobby and treatment rooms is light gray-painted polished concrete.

All 54D lobbies contain two large yellow and white logos, laser cut from PVC and mounted on black powder coated steel mesh panels. In the New York location, the first logo is positioned directly in line with the entrance door and is clearly visible from the street. The second is located in the social area, and hung above a low bench of yellow laminate and backlit with LED lighting. Social media is very important for brand marketing and members use this second logo as a backdrop for selfies that they can post on social media to promote their fitness progress.

The reception desk is faced with Nero Marquina black marble slabs and the adjacent yellow and black laminate shelving in the merchandise area has built-in LED highlight strips. A feature wall of subway tile surrounds a beverage center in the social area. Furniture in the social areas of each studio has been chosen to reflect regional trends. For example, in Coral Gables, plastic Knoll chairs with bright yellow seating cushions were chosen to reflect the local design community. In New York, the social area is furnished with a large table from Restoration Hardware, Magis Design’s Spun chairs in wood finish and bright yellow metal mesh accent chairs from Bluedot. In New York, the social area features a large table from Restoration Hardware, Magi’s Design’s Spun chairs in wood finish and bright yellow metal mesh accent chairs from Bluedot.

The training room contains several features that are emblematic of the training program and interior branding. A large steel cardio ramp that features yellow risers and sidewalls and a black ramp is the key feature of the space. Barbells are stored on custom designed millwork faced with black powder coated diamond plate steel. Inspirational messages cut in oversize vinyl letters are applied to oriented strand board (OSB) panels that have been painted to retained the appearance of the underlying grain. Black SofSURFACES duraSOUND rubber tiles with embedded yellow striping carry the branding across the floor. Punching bag rigging that was fabricated and assembled onsite has a raw steel look with intentional rusting. Punching bags are lined up along one studio wall that is paneled in light gray painted corrugated metal. An array of LeMonde exercise bikes was custom designed in black and yellow finishes to coordinate with the color scheme.

Fluxwerx Profile linear LED lighting fixtures of varying lengths are used throughout the training room. Three-spoke Profile fixtures are featured in the lobby.

According to Seibt, “The New York location has a lower ceiling height than that of the previous Florida locations, and the space is long and narrow. Although the visual proportions were maintained, the existing typologies were reconceptualized to adapt to the space. For example, the trademark cardio ramp was reduced in height, and bikes and other training equipment were distributed differently to better meet the layout constraints.”

Construction challenges

Wesbuilt uses BIM technology on all of its projects to coordinate the work and to expedite the schedule. “At the start of the 54D construction process, we used a Trimble X7-3D laser scanner and a Matterport scanner to digitally record data points that mapped existing building conditions. This information was then combined with the digital design drawings and we collaborated with the design team to make sure that there were no conflicts between the existing structure and utilities and the proposed work,” explained Stephen McKenna, Wesbuilt Project Manager. “This careful coordination permits us to identify potential areas of conflict before construction, so that costly change orders and schedule delays can be avoided,” he added.

The digital model was also used to produce shop drawings for subcontractors. Scans were performed frequently during construction to record progress and to create field reports. Upon project completion, Wesbuilt provided the client with a 3D model that included embedded tags for equipment identification, maintenance requirements, and repurchasing and warranty data.

54D had a strict opening date for the studio, and there was no flexibility in the 16-week schedule. However, Wesbuilt faced two challenges to meeting the date. First, construction of the specialized sound attenuation components of the project strained the schedule limits. Second, the design included two new air handling units that were a long lead item at 30 weeks. Wesbuilt consulted with MEP engineer NY Engineers to identify an alternate unit that was available in 24 weeks. While the team waited for the delivery, Wesbuilt installed a temporary rental unit and connected it to the new ductwork to allow the gym to open, and then changed out the system when the permanent unit was delivered.

“Wesbuilt scheduled overtime and weekend work that compressed the schedule from 16 weeks to 12 weeks, turning the studio over to the client four weeks ahead of the scheduled opening date,” added McKenna.

Acoustical Engineering

Mitigation of noise generated from music, jumping, and exercise equipment was an important consideration throughout the project duration. David Kotch, Principal of Criterion Acoustics, teamed with 54D early in the design process to assist in site selection. “We evaluated three separate short-listed spaces to consider sound attenuation capability. This property was ultimately chosen for three reasons: it had the highest ceiling level of the three, there were no residential tenants involved, and the existing concrete structural frame would reduce vibration transfers more than would other structural materials such as steel.” Landlord retained an acoustical consultant as well, and the two parties negotiated allowable decibel levels and wrote constraints into the lease.

Criterion developed a custom sound isolation system to surround the training room. As Andy Swerdlow, Criterion Associate Principal, explains, “Walls are double framed, with two metal stud support structures separated by an air space. On each side of air space are four layers of 5/8” Type X gypsum board panels. Head and floor tracks are isolated from the surrounding structure by rubber gaskets to reduce vibration.” The team engineered rubber isolation washer plates to be used in conjunction with steel fasteners to attach the wall framing to the building structure.

Plytech FIT70 rubber fitness tiles were specified for the training room. The tiles are 2.75” thick, with small pedestals that sit directly on the concrete floor and serve as a suspension system to isolate vibration.

The design of the ceiling presented a particular challenge as office space is located directly above the studio and sound attenuation was critical. The training room has four 18-inch Meyer Sound 900-LFC subwoofers located directly below the ceiling. Criterion designed a cardioid subwoofer array that directs the sound down toward the floor, and with input from Wesbuilt developed a kinetic spring system to isolate the woofers from the ceiling.

The ceiling is designed as an acoustic lid system consisting of three layers of gypsum board hung on kinetic springs with batt insulation above to absorb cavity resonance. Existing building ductwork and piping serving the tenant space above run directly below the ceiling slab, and Wesbuilt wrapped those elements with Soundseal B10 Lag vinyl seal noise barrier to prevent sound from being transmitted to the office space above. The Lag was also used to mitigate sound transmission to an existing air-handling unit that is located in the basement below the studio and serves other areas of the building.

To mitigate vibration and impact noise generated by members using the cardio ramp and the punching bag rack, Wesbuilt installed a one-inch thick custom elastomer base directly between the concrete floor and these two elements and fastened them with the same custom washer isolation system that was used in the wall construction.

Wesbuilt Construction Managers

Principals Donal McIntyre and Mark Galway established Wesbuilt in 2012. Headquartered in New York City, the firm is a leading construction manager and general contractor active in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Tri-State area. Serving both commercial and institutional clients, Wesbuilt is known for its technological acumen and innovation, including complete 3D scanning and BIM modeling of all projects during pre-construction phases.

Wesbuilt’s annual construction volume totals $120 million and includes work in the fitness, retail, workplace/office, hospitality, healthcare, multi-family, media and entertainment, municipal, education, and worship markets. Building Design & Construction magazine ranks Wesbuilt as the 30th largest construction manager and 183rd largest contractor in the U.S.

The firm’s recent projects include multiple gyms for a international fitness brand; the 200,000-square foot core-and-shell renovation and repositioning of the Mall at Cross County in Yonkers, NY; the 176-unit luxury condominium conversion of 450 Washington Street in Manhattan; the 80,000-square foot Amber Charter School in the Bronx, NY; the 20,000-square foot Apella Life Science conference center in Manhattan; the 15,000-square foot Mark Morris Dance Studio in Brooklyn, NY; the 60,000-square foot office of the United Teachers Federation in Forest Hills, NY; and the 15,000-square foot luxury Hutong restaurant in New York City.

THIRLWALL

THIRLWALL is a design practice with more than 20 years of experience in residential, commercial, hospitality, and retail design. The studio has developed and sustained a reputation for excellence in design and provides turn-key services, including conceptual design, design development, construction documentation and administration, landscape design and bespoke furnishings and branding.

The firm places a high value on conceptual approach, site specifics, client directives, and function as a fundamental evolution in the building process. Therefore, their work and clientele has been purposefully diverse. Their projects include ground up design of large-scale private residences in America and Europe, historic renovations, conversions of significant Art Deco buildings into luxury retail, design in many of Miami’s most modern residential towers, high-end townhomes and apartment renovations in New York City and Paris, fine art galleries, and commercial work in Manhattan.

Led by creative director James J. Wall, the THIRLWALL design team is located in Miami Beach, FL. James Wall has over 20 years of experience in architecture and interior design, and has drawn his inspiration from an unusual childhood of sailing around the globe with his family. Growing up in over fifty different countries, he honed his eye and stimulated his taste for a style ranging from neo-classical to ultra minimalist.

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