A Client’s Dream Come To Life: Custom Wellness Center

For the past year, we’ve had the pleasure of building York Street Wellness Center, which will open in Portland Maine during the Summer, 2019. 

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Last year, this client approached us with two things: a vision for their dream space, and a building they had purchased. We’ve gotten to play an integral role in shaping this project from start to finish, beginning by helping the client get clear on the details of how to bring their vision to life. 

When it’s finished, York St Wellness Center will fill a major gap in the Portland, Maine wellness space. This custom-built center will be a hub for bringing Western and Eastern medicine together, in a family-like, homey atmosphere. The center will feature a yoga studio, juice bar,  vegan restaurant, sauna, cold plunge pools, plus massage and acupuncture services. 

The owners of York St Wellness Center, a primary care MD and her husband, have long dreamt about what this space could bring to people in Portland, and we’ve loved being part of the process. Today, we’re detailing the highlights of the design and construction we brought to this project. 

From Restaurant to Indoor/Outdoor Haven 

As life-long Mainers, we relish being outside in nature, so we were so excited when the client asked us to find creative ways to bring the outside in. One way we did this is with a living wall that greets guests when they walk into the studio. This custom-built wall features barnboard planters with LED lighting and an automatic irrigation system that draws from the mechanical room. Getting this feature just right required lots of discussion and effort on everyone’s part to make it exactly what the client wanted, and we’re extremely proud of the end result. 

Perhaps the most dramatic feature of the space is the garage doors that open onto a large mahogany deck, facing the Portland Harbor. Guests can sip on juice (or beer!) while watching sailboats go by, and experience nature all year long. We love that this feature blurs the line between the indoors and outdoors.

Creating this seamless transition provides an open feeling in the space, and brings in ample natural daylight. Plus, for the cold months, a gas fireplace with salvaged whitewashed brick brings a modern, cozy touch and practical warmth.

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High-Tech Wellness

When building this space, we felt it was important to make sure that it was as multifunctional as possible, so that the space could keep pace with the businesses needs for years to come. So that’s why we put in all custom audio and video technology throughout the center, plus an automated projector in the yoga room. 

These features make it possible for the wellness center to easily host events in the yoga room, whether that’s live streaming a yoga conference, recording class sessions, or simply playing music with excellent sound quality throughout the studio and entire center. 

Customized Construction Details 

The owners of this space came to us with BIG vision for what the space could be, and what it should look like. So it makes sense that as we got into the project we had the opportunity to say “yes and…” to the client’s “what if…?”

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There was a basement in this space, and instead of leaving it empty, the client decided to make the most of it and added in a hydrotherapy room, plus two cold plunge tubs, and a 12x8 custom cedar sauna, with built in benches. This luxurious space also includes heated tile floors, showers, and a new bathroom. We got to flex our creative muscles with the design & construction of the bathroom especially, including upgrading the finishes to include accent tile, oak slab countertops, and a vessel sink. The end result is a luxurious space that we’d never want to leave! 

The treatment rooms, such as those used for private appointments, massages, or acupuncture, all got the same customized design touches, including barnboard accent walls that echo those found throughout the center. 

To make the transformation from restaurant to wellness center complete, we constructed some exterior improvements so that we could meet city code for egress in the 50+ person capacity yoga studio. 

Budget Mindfulness: 

With all of these customizations, all of us involved in the project were aware of how much things were costing. As always, we wanted to client to be able to get the end result they wanted, without feeling bereft at the cost when it’s all said and done. So here’s how we worked with the client to stay aware of the budget and save when possible: 

1) Thoughtfully considered changes, and made timing recommendations 

We knew that if we did absolutely *everything* at the outset, the budget would be blown completely, and opening day would be nowhere in sight. So we went through an extensive list of changes the client wanted to make, and we made recommendations for ones that could be done now and stay (relatively) on time, the rest could wait.

2) Pricing Exercises 

This client had ample inspiration for the finished look, and we knew that with some heavy research we could achieve it within the budget. So we uncovered some options for them, and quoted multiple scenarios to fit their budget and aesthetic. We also checked to make sure any changes were realistic from a construction standpoint. We know that product research isn’t something most construction contractors do, but to us, it’s important to do the kind of work that builds a better relationship. 

3) Communication - Internal and External 

With so many changes coming in at a fast pace, it was mission critical to make sure that our vast team of subcontractors knew about every update in real time. There isn’t anything worse in a project than having to undo a job well done just because of miscommunication. So getting the right information from the client, then efficiently communicating with our team kept us on track with timing and budget. 

4) Reusing Existing Features  

Since this was a conversion from a restaurant there were some features that we could reuse. Even with the new bar and kitchen looking vastly different than the previous design. Once we got into the project we saw that it would be cost-effective to reuse the current coolers in the kitchen instead of abandoning them, this easy switch saved the client thousands. 

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Bringing a Dream to Life 

This project has been a labor of love for all involved, and we’re honored that we’ve had the chance to lead this commercial fit-up project. We’re so excited that Portland, Maine now has such an innovative and comprehensive wellness space. Thank you to Stewart and Liz Strawbridge for inviting us to be part of this; we can’t wait to see what’s next for you!