Vital Climbing Gym

  • Location: Bellingham, WA
  • Client: Vital Climbing Gym

Vital Climbing Gym identified Bellingham as their next expansion market due to the high number of young adults (the result of four colleges) and the City’s reputation as a mecca for active sports. This particular location was chosen for its proximity to the City’s main transit station (across the alley), providing easy access to all residents.

The new home for Vital Climbing was formerly a sales and repair shop for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Prior to renovations, the building had a showroom at street level, with a repair shop in the basement. The ceiling was a featureless suspended type, and the exterior was monolithic stucco. Behind all this however, lay a gem. The roof is a clear span barrel vault, built from heavy timbers dating to the early 20th century. The bottom of the trusses were several feet above the suspended ceiling, out of view. The floor was a heavy timber floor, consisting of closely spaced heavy timber beams and decking.

Vital Climbing retained Zervas to completely makeover the building. The suspended ceiling was removed, and skylights added to highlight the barrel vault trusses. The floor was also removed, which yielded over $20,000 of recycled timber. The exception is one structural bay of floor at street level, to create an entry. The result is a nearly three story high space that features a wide variety of climbing opportunities.

Besides the entry, the portion of floor that remains also houses a small snack area and a private meeting room. From these spaces, non-climbers can watch over partial height walls. Accessibility for those of limited mobility is offered via a small, unenclosed hydraulic elevator.

Finally, the exterior stucco was removed, revealing an historic brick storefront, complete with vintage painted signs.

Projects in Performing Arts / Recreation