The Karma of Yoga
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 10/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
firms:olson sundberg kundig allen architectsandted tuttle interior design
The Noah's Ark installation at Los Angeles's Skirball Cultural Center. The Whatcom Museum of History & Art in Bellingham, Washington. The Frye Art Museum and Wing Luke Asian Museum at home in Seattle. Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects has completed some mighty high-profile institutional projects. The prize-winning firm is equally adept at designs small in scale and tight in budget. Proof positive is Seattle's Urban Yoga Spa.
Jim Olson has done little yoga personally. He had, however, collaborated with Ted Tuttle, a convert to yoga, specifically Vinyasa. Together, Olson's firm and Ted Tuttle Interior Design renovated and furnished an apartment for the couple who planned to open the Urban Yoga Spa—and who requested a similar black-and-white interior for the two-level, 5,500-square-foot storefront space in a 1925 Italianate building.
In search of a "purifying experience in a beautiful environment," Olson explains, he and Tuttle made numerous research visits to local studios and spas—and found much to be avoided. "A literal Zen interpretation, hippie stuff, anything boho." Ultimately, the "clean" look seemed the obvious choice.
Back on-site, demolition began. Out went "a cheap dropped ceiling and bad green carpet," Olson says. "Then, to create something special, we took what was there—the monumental columns and the concrete floor—exposed it, and painted almost everything white."
Building a new staircase and extending an existing mezzanine allowed the men's and women's lockers to go upstairs. Now there was plenty of room to build a yoga studio below them. The second studio and the reception area and lounge, all overlooked by the mezzanine, are double-height spaces.
When it came to partitioning off rooms, the team exploited daylight, a precious commodity in Seattle. The corner site provided windows on two sides, for starters. Olson and Tuttle allowed sunshine to infiltrate farther by using glass for the hallways, the stair landing, and the studios' end walls. The glass isn't clear, though. It's surfaced on one side with frosted film that "softens and mutes the light," Olson notes. "With no color distractions, light becomes the thing you're painting with."
To counterbalance the light's ethereal quality, Olson and Tuttle used cast-in-place concrete and blackened steel. The base of the reception desk is a massive concrete block, its detail coming from the tie rods. The staircase's guardrails, handrails, and skirt are steel, as are the letters spelling out the studio-spa's motto on the stairwell's wall: "The best way to predict your future. . .is to create it." Softening things up are the white rubber tile on the stair treads and risers, the gray vinyl on the studio floors, and the stained-oak cabinetry in reception.
The locker rooms and the spa share the upstairs, where Olson and Tuttle painted existing fir flooring white. Then, believe it or not, they resorted to retail for manicure tables and chairs, lamps, and shelving for product display. Remember the budget part of the program?
Photography by Tom Bies.
FROM FRONT HUBBLE LIGHTING: CEILING FIXTURES (ENTRY, MANICURES). JOHNSONITE: TILE (ENTRY, STAIRWELL). SIGN FACTORY: CUSTOM SIGNAGE (EXTERIOR). TRUE MANUFACTURING COMPANY: REFRIGERATORS (RECEPTION). LONSEAL: FLOORING (STUDIO). IKEA: TABLES, CHAIRS, SHELVING (MANICURES). TECTUM: CEILING PANELS. INTERSTATE DESIGN INDUSTRIES: CHAIRS (PEDICURES). THROUGHOUT LIGHTOLIER: LINEAR FIXTURES. 3M: FROSTED FILM. BENJAMIN MOORE & CO.: PAINT. DESIGN POOLE: GRAPHICS CONSULTANT. CRESCENT ELECTRICAL SUPPLY: LIGHTING CONSULTANT. MAGNUSSON KLEMENCIC ASSOCIATES: STRUCTURAL ENGINEER. SIDER + BYERS ASSOCIATES: MEP. ORCA ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS: ELECTRICAL ENGINEER. DISTINCTIVE GLASS: GLASSWORK. ALLEN CONSTRUCTION SERVICES: WOODWORK, METALWORK. WESTEEL: METALWORK. KREKOW JENNINGS: GENERAL CONTRACTOR.