The new additions supplement the expanding needs of York County’s southern tier.

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The YMCA of York County’s Southern Branch in Shrewsbury, which serves about 10,000 people each year, is going to get even busier after a major expansion that replaces a makeshift gym and adds a warm-water therapeutic pool.

Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects of York and Baltimore, a longtime partner in the Y’s vision and development, has designed the full-size gym and 20-foot-by-30-foot pool. Construction of additions to house the gym and pool on opposite ends of the branch began in early fall, with the new facilities likely opening in the spring.

Architects Todd Grove and Rebecca McCormick designed the new offerings. What the branch has been using for a gym has left it wanting.

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“It really is a stretch to call it a gym. It’s big enough to bounce some balls around,” Grove says of the converted roller rink with ceilings too low to allow for basketball games. That area will become the home of the Y’s fitness classes.

The new gym will have a regulation high school basketball court and two smaller perpendicular courts, as well as a volleyball court, with a durable maple wood floor. There is space to add bleachers in the future if the Y decides that they’re needed.

YMCA of York County’s Southern Branch in Shrewsbury Color Floor Plan

YMCA of York County’s Southern Branch in Shrewsbury Color Floor Plan

Serving many functions

Living Hope Church in Shrewsbury will hold Sunday services in the new gym, as it has in the old one. The Architects designed a raised platform, separated from the court area by a curtain, to serve as an altar or a stage.

“The idea was to make it a very multi-purpose space,” McCormick says. “The lobby going into the gym can accommodate a lot of functions as a gathering space. Groups can set up tables. The church group can set up coffee before or after services.”

As with so many Murphy & Dittenhafer projects, natural daylight was a prime consideration in designing the gym.

“Direct sun is not good for glare, shining on the court,” Grove explains. The Architects glazed the topmost portion of the long north-facing wall with translucent panels that diffuse natural light. Clear glass windows higher up will provide a glimpse of the outdoors.

Acoustic wall panels covered with colored fabric were chosen to be compatible with the gym’s use by the church. The addition includes new restrooms, storage rooms for gym equipment, and a room to house mechanical services.

Adding a ‘game-changer’

The warm-water pool, which complements the branch’s eight-lane swimming pool, will be used for rehabilitation sessions and swim lessons for all ages.

“It is definitely the only warm-water pool facility in the area,” Grove says. “It is going to be a game-changer. It is going to be a welcome asset to support the mission and the programs of the Y, and also provide services and access to the community. It’s a big deal.”

Spirit Trust Lutheran, which provides rehabilitation services and is located next door to the Y, will be among the community groups using the 3- to 4-foot-deep pool.

The new additions supplement the branch’s slate of childcare, youth camps, sports leagues, and exercise classes, as well as a diabetes-prevention program, nutrition coaching, and human services. They also address the expanding needs of York County’s southern tier.

“That Y is already known for all its programs. It’s well-used and continually growing. More houses are being built, so there’s even more of a need,” Grove points out. “I think it’s going to show the Y is not a stagnant entity. It’s continually improving itself, providing a nice, updated image for the Y.”

Even the exterior of the addition near Constitution Avenue will beckon to the community the Y serves, which stretches from Jacobus into northern Maryland, with a prominent, fresh look for the building, McCormick adds.

“With new signage,” she says, “it will bring a new face to the Y.”


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