Studio PHH
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Steep Rock Bouldering




Type          Commercial

Location    New York, NY

Status        Completed May 2016

Scale          7,000 SF

Team         Studio PHH Architecture

          MEP: AMA Consulting

         Structural: Quantum Consulting

When tasked with placing a steel mountain -- ie. a rock climbing gym -- within a newly constructed all-glass retail storefront, the unavoidable proximity of our opaque, faceted climbing wall to the measured, transparent glass box in which it is sited produces a crucial dichotomy which becomes the driving force behind the design.

Inhabiting the prime of four corner retail spaces at Columbia University’s new campus in West Harlem, the space inherited both a strong visual aesthetic and the campus’ community oriented aspirations.  Our project attempts to support both.

Instead of a familiar climbing wall, the backside of the wall is open, its structure expressed. The “rusting”, faceted structure’s high tactility is in complete material contrast to the building’s commercial storefront but the structural rhythm of the wall was designed to match the space it inhabits. The exposed structure also provides a sculptural backdrop for the retail space which, in conjunction with the custom blackened steel and plywood furniture, imparts the gym with it’s own identity.

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