A Modern Boys & Girls Club in Hartford’s South End

Photo Credit: Robert Benson Photography

The Boys & Girls Club of Hartford (the original and oldest club location in the U.S.) engaged longtime collaborator JCJ Architecture to design its new location in Hartford’s South End on land donated by the city. The design team focused its efforts on serving the community, as the club functions as a home-away-from-home for over one-third of the school-age children in the area. Each design detail contributes to an environment that provides children the opportunity to thrive and realize their potential through enrichment and social-emotional development programs. The community asset will continue to support generations of local families. 
Serving as Architect of Record, JCJ Architecture created a harmonious environment by combining natural light, colors, textures, sounds, and forms with meaningful spatial characteristics. The new South End Club is designed to excite the children and teens of Hartford with a bold, modern aesthetic. Brick and metal panels outline the exterior’s large sloping roof, while glass and translucent wall panels provide ample sunlight throughout the building. Strategically placed windows add to the modern aesthetic and provide glimpses into the program spaces within for passers-by. The main entry canopy welcomes students from both the adjacent middle school and those arriving by bus. 
The interior layout centers around the games room, a light-filled, two-story space containing table and video games, as well as dining, social, and study areas. Surrounding the games room are classrooms, conference rooms, and hands-on learning spaces with adaptable furniture and equipment solutions that enable a variety of uses. The gymnasium, another core space of the club, features a large translucent clerestory wall that allows daylight to enter the space without producing a glare. Bright colors throughout the interiors highlight the different program areas, adding excitement and fun all the way to the drinking fountains, where randomized tile patterns tie all the colors together.  
Spearheading procurement of furniture and equipment for the club, JCJ Architecture prioritized flexible solutions to meet the shifting needs of club members, volunteers, staff, and community members as new patterns for learning and interaction emerge. The community room, for example, features an operable wall that can be adjusted to suit the needs of larger groups for evening meetings. Additional amenities include a technology center, art and photography room, TV/recording studio, homework room, performing arts room, café and kitchenette, and an administration suite. 
By aligning with the available budget for this project, the team at JCJ Architecture avoided pulling from funds that could otherwise be used to support a child at the facility. Prioritizing flexibility, natural light, and color, the design team created a modern and exciting community center that will serve the children and families of Hartford’s South End for generations to come. 

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