Architecture & Design, Health Care, and Real Estate

Mary Free Bed YMCA opens doors

December 9, 2015
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Mary Free Bed YMCA
The 116,200-square-foot Mary Free Bed YMCA in Cascade Township is designed for all people, regardless of their abilities. Courtesy Mary Free Bed YMCA

West Michigan is now home to a “first-of-its-kind” YMCA.

The new Mary Free Bed YMCA in Cascade Township will be the first YMCA facility in the world to receive a Universal Design certification, which recognizes the “revolutionary” architecture of the building, specifically designed to equally serve all people, regardless of their abilities.

The $31-million facility, located at 5500 Burton St. SE, opened this week and employs universal design that allows for easy access to every space and activity for both able bodied and disabled people, particularly those using wheelchairs.

It is also LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Mary Free Bed YMCA spans 116,200 square feet on a 36-acre campus.

The facility has a number of indoor and outdoor amenities: two and a half gymnasiums, two pools, two group fitness studios, indoor cycling studio, indoor track, climbing wall, modern fitness equipment, wheelchair softball field, tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields and the Carol Van Andel Healthy Living Center, which includes a greenhouse, teaching kitchen and learning farm.

The Mary Free Bed Guild teamed up with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids to make the project a reality for those with temporary or permanent disabilities, as well as able-bodied people.

Kim Ridings, president of the guild, said previously that the new YMCA will “benefit both the guild’s patients and the entire community.”

“Our patients will come here for recreational therapy,” Ridings said. “Our Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports program, which serves approximately 700 athletes every year, will call this home.”

The facility is also accessible by a Rapid bus line.

Ground broke on the project in September 2014, with Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction handling construction and Progressive AE in Grand Rapids serving as the project’s architect.

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