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Board Formed Concrete

Chicago, IL

Board formed concrete at Midtown Athletic Club Chicago

A massive architectural concrete ribbon at the new Midtown Athletic Club flanks the street edge and humanizes the scale of the building along an expansive 400 foot frontage on Elston Avenue. This ribbon folds up and caps the outdoor hot tub and stairways and frames the view out from the second-floor pool deck.


This concrete ribbon, along with the exposed ceilings and beams on the first floor that houses a 100 ft long indoor swimming pool was cast in place using board forms. Pine boards in two widths, 1x6 and 1x8, were the forming material of choice and these boards were painstakingly choreographed to represent an 8 foot module with a repetitive Fibonacci pattern. Joints were staggered with a minimum overlap of 24 inches. All structural cold joints were coordinated to align with the board joints. Mock ups were tested to arrive at the right color, consistency, curing and stripping techniques, that resulted in a rich concrete texture with a subtle grain pattern on the finished face.


A coverage of almost half an acre of concrete was board formed in place and almost 100% of those forms that were stripped we reused to clad the interior walls of the Athletic club. Keeping with the overall design philosophy of “Honesty of Materials”, the design team embraced the texture and inconsistent coloring of the salvaged boards (with fire retardant coating) and clad majority of the expansive fitness floor with it, that it became an archetypal expression of the club.

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