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The Thornton YMCA in Tulsa, Oklahoma had become not too pleasing to look at, to put it nicely.  Built in 1968, the Thornton YMCA was once a thriving family fitness center.

However, after a few decades of near non-stop activity – as well as changes in both fitness and family recreation over the last half century – it left many looking for more modern options and a renovation.

“The Y was in an ideal location; it just lacked appeal and functionality,” according to Jeremy Carlisle, an Associate Principal and landscape architect with GH2 Architects, the firm responsible for the facility’s transformation.

The YMCA’s $21 million improvement program included the renovation of the existing facility and a new 60,000-square-foot addition.

It was modernized in the renovated spaces, while the newly constructed addition features a three-pool indoor aquatic center. There is also now 4,000 square feet of space dedicated to a new partnership between the Y and the University of Oklahoma Physicians Sports Medicine and OU Physical Therapy.

The YMCA leadership also want an entry feature that’s a beautiful, year-round work of art. The entry area also needed to have a wet-play surface, so GH2 turned to concrete for a material that’s durable enough to withstand constant use and weather.  Concrete as the hardscape materials would also account for a coefficient of friction that makes them safe for children playing on a hot summer day.

They incorporated two distinct concrete treatments, which had to be poured above the network of lines and drainage channels required to support the water features.

No doubt using plenty of concrete cutting saws, rebar tiers and other masonry and concrete equipment, the scope of the work involved multiple grades, both permeable and imperable surfaces, and stone walls and concrete exterior walls of the new building.

Bomanite has been used in concrete flatwork since the mid-1950s.  “There were really a lot of different requirements in choosing the right materials for the splash garden and Bomanite met them all,” Carlisle said. He also said he wanted to to turn over the entire scope of work for the architectural concrete to a single contractor.

Bomanite of Tulsa, an independent Licensed Contractor, worked with GH2 and the Y’s leadership during design to propose products, colors, and finishes for the project.

During construction, the biggest challenge for Bomanite of Tulsa was putting in the intricate architectural concrete. Carlisle and the others at GH2 and the Y said they are thrilled with the finished product – a beautifully updated fitness and wellness center for the whole community. 

“This project called for high-impact, aesthetically pleasing, and long-lasting architectural concrete,” Carlisle said. “Perhaps just as importantly, we needed it to be installed by a team with the technical knowledge to tackle a very challenging configuration and complex concrete work coordination.”