Douglas Dayton YMCA at Gaviidae

Community Hub in Downtown Minneapolis

Following the merger of the YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis and the YMCA of Greater St. Paul in 2012, the new YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities sought to relocate their Downtown Minneapolis YMCA facility for greater exposure and convenience for people working and living in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

At the corner of 6th Street and Nicollet Mall, The Douglas Dayton YMCA breathes new life into the iconic atrium and bustling skyway interchange of Gaviidae Common. The ambitious project occupies parts of all five floors of the multi-tenant Gaviidae Common and provides unique spaces for:

Community outreach
  • The George Wellbeing Center on the skyway level
  • The first ever Equity Innovation Center on level three, an environment for individuals, organizations, and communities to become change agents
  • Unique fitness studios
  • A gymnasium and a pool on level four
  • A rooftop deck and outdoor fitness studio
  • Open office floor plan for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities Association offices
  • Unique conferencing environments
  • Workplace cafe

Far more than a fitness facility, the project leverages its location and community presence to promote holistic wellness and embody the pillars of the YMCA:

  • Youth Development
  • Healthy Living
  • Social Responsibility

Design Process

The primary challenge of the project was repurposing the existing office and retail spaces for the requirements of a fitness program. Both the pool space and the gymnasium space required not only structural accommodation, but volume as well.

Locating these program spaces meant removing floors above and reinforcing floors below to provide the required volume and structural integrity, thus limiting available space on the floors above.

In addition to addressing the challenges of locating these key anchoring program spaces, the central atrium divides the overall building floorplate, presenting challenges in both spatial organization and ensuring necessary adjacencies and internal connections.

Culminating in an outdoor fitness space located on the rooftop, the project takes advantage of its location by activating and embracing the volume of the city. Positioned at the heart of the central business district, the rooftop fitness studio provides brand exposure as well as an awe-inspiring experience of the city.


The project revitalizes a well-known Minneapolis landmark and prominent location on the skyway system to provide visibility of the YMCA’s brand and mission.

Stairs and bridges cross the atrium to weave together fitness spaces and unique workout studios on three levels. These connecting circulation paths break up the large volume of the atrium, visually energizing the skyway environment and drawing movement up into the branch, while connecting to the greater public circulation arteries of the city.


Minneapolis, MN

Building Type

Fitness facility, Workplace, Community center


104,000 SF

  • 2018 Top Projects, Finance & Commerce

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