We were contacted by a small business owner in Harrisonburg that wanted to start a new venture in town. I was familiar with the type of studio she was looking to create, but had never experienced it first hand. Her goal was to start the first Harrisonburg Bikram Yoga Studio. Bikram Yoga is a system of Yoga that Bikram Choudhury synthesized from traditional hatha yoga techniques and popularized beginning in the early 1970’s. Bikram Yoga is ideally practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees with a humidity of 40%. As an architect and a building scientist, this is the coolest design challenge and the scariest all in one project. Our first step was to do some research – this is the Charlottesville Bikram Yoga Studio.
We set off to design a functional, healthy, space for this new business in an old two story building. We evaluated the existing space, created drawings to start our design work, and met with the owner to layout the most functional solutions for her business goals.
Due to some circumstances beyond our control the project became a fast track schedule where we were still doing design while construction was ongoing. This is often not the best approach to a complicated design project, but we adapted. The design team by this point included the business owners, Winston Rhodes (mechanical engineer), Jim Herr (Contractor), Ken Wells (insulation expert), Deborah Smith (architectural intern), Amy Turnage (Interior Designer), and me. The challenge was to keep the humidity controlled inside the yoga studio and to protect the existing structural components of the building. If both of these goals are achieved the clients goal of having a healthy and functional space will be realized. I worked with Winston to cover the various options for performance then we both met with the entire team to discuss buildability / costs to deliver the best solution possible for this business use.
Once the plan was agreed on, construction continued on the space. First rigid insulation was installed on the interior of the wood studs. Then a vapor barrier of closed cell foam was installed.
Drywall brackets were created by Jim with consultations with the drywall company and local suppliers.
The finished product, in the works, will be a healthy, comfortable (110 degrees at 40% humidity) room for our client. While this is a very unique business type, all projects should take the care and attention this project did to building science elements. Planning up front always costs less than fixing the problems later. As we always say – Design Matters!
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