Uptown Sports Club by Olivia Buntin, Shannon McElroy, and Anni Nieminen

Uptown Sports Club is located in a rapidly growing, diverse, and historically honored area of East Austin. To pay respect to the rich history of the original bar that was housed in the building, the name Uptown Sports Club is maintained. The focus of the project was to investigate the interior as layers of assistive technology.

Set 80 years in the future, when the current generation would be 100 years old, we aimed to highlight the importance of physical exercise, socialization, and connection to nature. This led to the creation of an age-inclusive sports club in East Austin, which we assume will be further urbanized in the future. For the intervention, we have created a wellness center accommodating to people of all ages and ability levels. To accomplish this, we considered aging as a gradient of change. In order to react to these gradients of experience we designed an interior focused on flexibility in addressing this spectrum. Some of the “gradients” we considered are the span of ages welcome, the amount of autonomy offered, levels of privacy, fitness, abilities accommodated, and visual changes of the interior walls themselves.

Uptown consists of programs organized by those levels of autonomy. Changing cabinets, an instructive workout room, a relaxation and muscle recovery zone, outside amenities, and outdoor exercise are all connected through a walking path that aids in the promenade from zone to zone to prevent wandering and confusion among elderly visitors. In each program, the furniture, materiality, and equipment have been designed to promote interaction while providing assistance and ease of mind to those to whom an exercise space is not typically catered. Various furnishings (such as workout chairs) rethink the accessibility of exercise equipment.

As one interacts with the cushions on the furnishings, the color on the walls (or Ephemeral Columns) of the instructive workout zone responds. This is made possible through piezoelectric textiles and thermo-chromic textiles. The space would be constantly changing throughout the day. Eventually, the colors would all fade and the walls will return to the original blank canvas they started as. The interactive concept allows users to actually affect the aesthetics of the space, and “leave their mark” but in a more poetic and fleeting way that stands as a metaphor for aging and how memories become ephemeral with time.

In conclusion, Uptown is an age-inclusive sports club that aims to bring people of all experiences together in the community to benefit from the positive impact exercise can have on social, mental, and physical well-being.

Spring 2022 Design Excellence Award Winner

Olivia Buntin, Shannon McElroy, and Anni Nieminen
Advanced Design
Instructor: Nerea Feliz