PROJECT Right to Dream Academy + Purpose Labs
ARCHITECT Gensler:Alan Gombrera - Project Manager, Elaine Asal - Design Director, Joel Spearman - Designer, Tyler Miller - Designer,
LOCATION Baltimore, Maryland, US
PROJECT COMPLETION DATE 11/19/2021
The design team worked collaboratively with the Right to Dream organization to design and build out its state-of-the-art Baltimore campus, home to a community center, training facility and pitches, dining hall, school and mentoring center, and a soccer stadium. Located in the fruitful Port Covington, the Right to Dream campus adds another rich and meaningful destination experience to the contemporary high-end development.
More than a soccer academy, instead, a community impact cornerstone, the Right to Dream campus is designed to help people discover their purpose and inspire a wave of social change within the soccer industry and beyond. The campus creates a thoughtful environment for excellence and purpose-centered lives to flourish, building deeper bonds and success for individuals and the greater community. Since the organization’s inception 23 years ago, Right to Dream has found and connected exceptional talent (over 230 graduates) with the right opportunities, giving young people the chance to achieve their full potential through a rigorous academic, soccer, and character-building program.
During development, the design team and the Right to Dream organization brainstormed ways to allow student-athletes to explore greater meaning in every facet of their day. What resulted were ‘Purpose Labs’, different zones found around campus that each take on a different theme ultimately influencing the type of space created. The five space types are (1) storytelling and journey, (2) culture and advocacy, (3) discovery and innovation, (4) community and engagement, and (5) self-reflection and wellness. Designed as a kit of parts system, the design team anticipates adaptations, variation, and scaling of the components to align to different conditions. Further ensuring these spaces maximized value, the Right to Dream organization contracted a notorious sports psychologist to develop a new curriculum to help the academy students reach top-level performance in soccer and everyday life, ultimately creating 360-degree well-rounded humans.
The design team helped to bring each ‘Purpose Lab’ physical design typology to life to help each student-athlete create their own story, connect with their peers’ stories, and then share their stories with the world. The storytelling and journey space features a central gathering area reinforcing the collective while providing a place to connect and reflect. The culture and advocacy space sports large windows to bring in natural light, a broadcast studio with media capabilities for student-athletes to explore another path, and seating in the round to break down hierarchies and create equity in sharing and experience. The discovery and innovation space key components include a maker and creative space, VR/digital lounge, a kids-only space, and an outdoor maker area. Large multi-purpose rooms, multiple classrooms, and staff offices fill the community and engagement purpose lab spaces allowing students and staff to learn with focus and intent. Finally, the self-reflection and wellness purpose lab space brings together mind, body, and soul through a combination of reflection spaces, quiet gathering areas, and a library of ideas.
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Right to Dream Academy + Purpose Labs
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