Make It Real: James Develin's Gym



Introduction: Make It Real: James Develin's Gym

I designed this gym for James Develin as part of the Make it Real challenge. I had a great time learning about various aspects of architecture through this process, and I would like to thank everyone who made this opportunity possible!

This gym contains anything you would want and more. It has a pool, rock climbing walls, ample gym equipment, locker rooms, and plenty of room for expansion. The building aims to be as sustainable as possible through the use of efficient lighting, cost-efficient materials, and green sources of power such as solar panels. In addition, it is located in an ideal area in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania right next to baseball fields and basketball courts!

Step 1: Building Site Location

I chose W 8th Ave, Conshohocken, PA 19428 for the building site, which provides 0.88 acres of open space. I chose this location for a few reasons:

  1. James Develin stated that his ideal location would be Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, US.
  2. This is right next to a park with baseball fields and basketball courts, so people who go to the park, whether for exercise, training, or fun, will likely also be interested in a gym. This can become a fitness/exercise area with both indoor and outdoor spaces. Also, because there are already fields and courts, there is no need to spend more of the budget building them!
  3. The site is located in between Conshohocken's commercial and light industrial zones, so it will attract both shoppers and workers.
  4. According to, this location is for sale at the time of writing this.

Step 2: Construction Site Logistics & Safety

The blue in the image represents the construction site fence, and the area inside is the construction site. The red is the drop-off zone, and the green is the muster point and site trailer.

Safety is the first priority in construction so that no worker sustains injuries. In order to ensure safety, the construction site will be analyzed for potential safety hazards to workers, steps will be taken to avoid identified hazards, and all employees will go through training so that they know how to properly use power tools, personal protective equipment, and construction techniques, follow standard protocols, and what to do in the case of an emergency. Additionally, leadership and management for overseeing the construction will be carefully chosen, ideally with prior leadership experience, and go through further training. Only authorized personnel will be allowed in the construction site at all times.

Additionally, if the gym is built during the pandemic, all construction workers will need to test negative for COVID-19, and if they work in close proximity to others, they will need to be vaccinated. All Pennsylvania state guidelines and regulations will also be followed.

Step 3: Foundation

The foundation is shown in the images above. It is made of concrete reinforced with steel rods. Concrete can handle compression forces but has low tensile strength and ductility. Steel helps the concrete withstand shear and tensile forces. This is known as rebar.

A foundation, with the exception of the pool, should be laid where walls of the building support the ceiling, which is why the foundation isn't completely filled in. The foundation is about 6 feet deep based on the approximated load of the building.

Step 4: Reinforced Concrete Structure

Similarly to the foundation, much of the structural system is built from concrete reinforced with steel for similar reasons mentioned. Concrete will also provide a smooth and clean texture that will match the overall look of the building.

Step 5: Wood Structure

Another part of the structure is the wood frame. While it is mostly used for the aesthetic of the building, it helps to support the roof and its overhang on the left side of the building.

Step 6: Brick Feature

There is a brick feature in the back of the building, which provides extra support, detail, depth, and texture.

Step 7: Roof

Most of the roof is built from reinforced concrete. Concrete is ideal for the roof because it is strong and durable, allowing it to withstand bad weather. This is ideal because one of the most common natural disasters in Pennsylvania are storms, and it rains and snows pretty heavily.

The one downside of concrete as a roof is that it is heavy, but this is not a problem as long as the building is designed to support such weight.

Step 8: Exterior Walls & Windows

As you can see, much of the exterior is glass, specifically heat-strengthened and tinted glass. Heat-strengthened glass can withstand pressure and suction from wind compared to other glass options. Each glass wall provides insulation because it is actually two panes of glass with a vacuum space in between, which reduces heat transfer and provides insulation.

The tint in the glass is to reduce direct exposure from sunlight and provide some privacy to those in the gym while allowing full view of the surroundings and making the gym feel larger than it is.

Step 9: Interior Walls & Floors

I added walls and flooring to the interior of the building to create new rooms. I separated the pool from the rest of the building, created a men's and women's locker room, and added a second floor as well as a floating-style staircase.

Most of the gym's flooring is rubber, which is non-slip and also has shock-absorbing qualities, which will help protect those working out. The rest of the flooring, namely the locker rooms and pool, is tiled with unpolished stone, which makes sure that the floor isn't slippery, so there is a lower chance that people will fall.

All of this will be furnished in the next step!

Step 10: Interior & Details

For the images above, I removed the exterior so that the interior is easier to see.

In front of the entrance is the front desk where guests can check in.

The main area, the gym, is divided into two floors and both are full of exercise equipment. These include, exercise bicycles, treadmills, punching bags, weightlifting kits, and yoga mats.

Past the front desk are the locker rooms for men and women. The male room is on the first floor and the female room is on the second floor. They are essentially identical and include 110 lockers, three showers, two bathroom stalls, three sinks, and one large bench that can accommodate many people.

All lights in the gym are LED as they are the most efficient option, using less energy and providing more light than other options.

Step 11: Solar Panels

The gym will get its power from the sun using solar panels, which are a sustainable energy source. While solar panels are expensive, they are a good long-term investment. Not only are they a friendly option for the environment, but they also will lower electrical bills and provide protection from rising electricity prices. Additionally, using an energy storage system, the energy cultivated from the solar panels can be used to power the building even in the case of a power outage or when the sun isn't out.

Step 12: HVAC System

The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system will be stored on the flat roof of the building, so it is practically not visible to those who go to the gym. In the above scenery, you can see the cooling tower, exhaust fan, and outside air unit. The darker gray boxes are energy storage from energy cultivated by the solar panels.

Step 13: Surroundings: Rock Climbing Wall

I decided to add a rock climbing wall on the outside of the building. Not only does it provide a unique form of exercise, but it also provides more scenery and privacy around the gym. There are three walls with different heights and angles, thus having different difficulties. The darker area around the rock walls are a soft material to protect against falls and make them less painful.

Step 14: Parking Lot

Finally, we need a parking lot for gym-goers to park. This is very simple and is made out of concrete. The parking lot can accommodate more than enough cars and even has room for expansion in the future.

Step 15: Room for Expansion

The red box represents how much area the gym currently takes up, including the parking lot. As you can see, there is still a lot of room for expansion. Personally, I would add some green spaces to focus more on mental health and relaxation and possibly add a smoothie shack and snack bar.

Step 16: Cost & Construction Plan

4 weeks

6 weeks

Brick Feature:
4 weeks

Windows & Walls:
8 weeks

6 weeks

Solar Panels, HVAC, & Plumbing:
4 weeks

Exercise Items (Equipment, Rock Climbing Wall, Pool, Etc.)
4 weeks

Parking Lot
8 weeks

Total estimated cost: $818,350
Keep in mind that while each item takes a few weeks to finish, some can be done in a parallel manner, meaning more than on part of the building can be worked on. Because of this, I estimate that it will take about 9 months to finish building construction:

  1. The foundation and parking lot will have to be built together - 10 weeks
  2. The structure will go next - 6 weeks
  3. The windows and walls will be constructed next - 8 weeks
  4. The roof will be built, and the brick feature can be constructed at the same time, saving a few weeks - 6 weeks
  5. While the utilities are being installed, the exercise items can be installed as well - 6 weeks

This is a total of 36 weeks, which is about 9 months.

Step 17: Thank You!

Thank you for reading about what I've designed! I had a fun time doing it and learning about things I've never done before!

Make it Real Student Design Challenge #3

Runner Up in the
Make it Real Student Design Challenge #3

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
    • Robots Contest

      Robots Contest