M.B.A Athletic Center

With the Summer Olympics about to start in London, everyone around here has a case of Olympic fever! So, we thought who better to spotlight for our Thesis Up Close series than recent BFA graduate Sofia Juperius. Her M.B.A Athletic Center, a performance enhancement and physical therapy center dedicated solely to professional athletes, is one of many projects on view at the NYSID Gallery, 161 East 69 Street, NYC through July 25.

Why did you want to create an athletic center?
It’s something I really wanted to do because I’m a former athlete. I was an elite gymnast until I was 12 and then a professional downhill skier until the age of 22. Sports was my entire life, it was literally all I knew. But then I had a bad injury and decided to stop. At first it was difficult to picture myself doing anything else, but I started to look into other things that I was interested in and ultimately decided to pursue interior design. It had always been a hobby of mine; so now this is my profession and I can ski for my hobby.

 Reception Area, M.B.A. Athletic Center

Reception Area, M.B.A. Athletic Center

What’s different about the M.B.A. Center?
For the most part, professional athletes train at gyms amongst non-professionals. This can be OK, but it’s preferable to be around other like-minded athletes, so you can train together, share experiences, and help motivate and inspire one another. The M.B.A. Center stands for Mind, Body and Attitude—three components you need to succeed as an athlete.  That idea is symbolized with the triangle. I wanted to create an ideal space for training and performing so professional athletes can truly excel at what they do.

 Bar Area, M.B.A. Athletic Center

Bar Area, M.B.A. Athletic Center

 Pool, M.B.A. Athletic Center

Pool, M.B.A. Athletic Center

Tell me about the overall design aesthetic.
Since all thesis projects are within real-life buildings, I chose the Larkin building by Frank Lloyd Wright. I wanted to create a sense of a fortress, with nothing to distract these athletes. It’s a big, powerful building. The interior continues the idea of power and strength with raw concrete walls and modern and minimal furnishings. Throughout the building, I also incorporated inspiring images of famous, iconic athletes like Wayne Gretsky and Michael Phelps to remind the athletes of goal they are trying to reach. It all goes back to the concept of physical and mental strength.

There are 5 floors in total and the rooftop has a running track. The 1st floor has the entryway, locker room and a lap pool; the 2nd floor is the workout floor, with weight training and cardio; the 3rd floor is for the rehab of the body—physical therapy and mental coaching; the 4th floor is the more social floor with a restaurant, lounge and outdoor terrace and the 5th floor has hotel rooms. The idea is that an individual or a team could come and stay for a week or two and focus on training or rehab.

 Lounge Area, M.B.A. Athletic Center

Lounge Area, M.B.A. Athletic Center

Why did you think it was important to have so many areas for socializing?
Although athletes will come to the M.B.A. Center to focus on their training, they also need to have some down time and to connect with fellow athletes. It goes back to the core idea that it’s a place for people to train together, share experiences and help motivate each other.

So what will you be watching during the Olympics?
Although I’m pretty busy at my job at Octave Studios, a high-end residential design firm, I will definitely watch as much as I can. During the summer my favorite is gymnastics, obviously. I also really like to watch swimming and I love track – I used to do that too.

Phyllis Greer