The renovation of a vacant former bank into a five-story Gold’s Gym in downtown Milwaukee has won more than its share of awards for Lori and Jeremy Lowell, Gold’s Gym franchisees of the year in 2010, and their general contractor, Consolidated Construction Co. Inc., Appleton, WI.

Last month, Consolidated Construction won the National Eagle Award in the Associated Builders and Contractors’ 2011 National Excellence in Construction competition for its renovation of the building. The company won in the general contractor/construction management category for a $4 million to $10 million renovation.

The award is the seventh for the 40,000-square-foot facility, which opened in December 2010. In addition to awards specifically for the Gold’s Gym renovation, the complex of two buildings in which the gym is located, called City Center, also won the Building Owners and Managers Association of Wisconsin’s 2011 Outstanding Building of the Year–Historical Award.

The Lowells have three clubs in Wisconsin and more in Virginia where they started their Gold’s Gym franchise, but none are quite like this, their first urban club, Lori says.

“Because it is on five floors, and it’s so unique and it’s high-end and it sits on the water and it’s very dramatic and dynamic, I think that is why all the awards were given,” Lori says. “All of our clubs are innovative and new, but because they don’t sit with that kind of complexity, it is not as recognizable.”

The Lowells, who have an area development agreement with Gold’s Gym International, Irving, TX, for the Milwaukee area and are slated to open four more clubs there, worked closely with their two partners on the design of the facility. Sandy Hall, owner of Taft Construction, is the group’s design and lease negotiation partner while Joe Harrison is another partner who works with Lori on the front end of the business—from group fitness design and layout to hiring and staff training.

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The renovation of the building, which is located in the former financial district of Milwaukee, had some special requirements and challenges that began with gutting the five floors—including a bank vault and a ballroom that had wall murals depicting the financial district in the 1920s and 1930s.

Parking in the downtown area was a concern, so Consolidated Construction opened the front of the building at street level to allow cars to enter the building into a valet staging area with six stalls.

The company put half of a basketball court on the fourth floor, knocking out the 11-foot ceiling into the fifth floor where glass walls allow guests to view the action on the court below them. The fifth floor also looks down on the river outside.

The team added a 40,000-gallon, three-lane saltwater lap pool on the third floor, but that required galvanized steel beams on the second floor to support the pool. The beams are situated high enough that pool and building mechanicals can be tucked away and people can walk underneath the pool to access the mechanicals.

The exterior of the building had to bridge the historical design of the building on one side with the modern design of the building on the other side. Consolidated Construction removed red granite panels on the exterior of the building and replaced them with composite metal panels that match the gray tones of the historic building but also the sleek shape of the concrete modern building.

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The group also ran into issues such as asbestos and last-minute changes to the group fitness space that required renegotiating space with the landlord to allow for a separate wing dedicated to group fitness, Lori says.

Another challenge was the HVAC system, which became stressed during the morning and afternoon as the sun shone through the massive bank of windows.

“The cooling component has been a little stressful and has cost us a bit more than we were anticipating,” Lori says.

But the stress has been worth it, she adds.

“Whenever I walk into the club, it takes my breath away,” she says. “I’m insanely jealous of that club. I don’t go in as much as I would like because I don’t live close to it.”

In addition to valet parking, a pool, cardio and strength areas, the group fitness wing and the basketball court, the club also has cardio cinema, executive and regular locker rooms, a juice bar, a group cycle room and tanning services.

Design Awards Won by Gold's Gym Milwaukee

2011 Milwaukee Mayor’s Design Award: “Urbanism Redefined”

2011 Wisconsin Commercial Real Estate Women: Vision Ingenuity Award

2011 BizTimes Milwaukee, Innovation Quotient Award

2010 The Business Journal, Real Estate Award: Office Deal of the Year

2011 The Business Journal, Real Estate Award: Best Renovation – Retail/Hospitality

2011 Associated Builders & Contractors of Wisconsin Projects of Distinction: Gold Award, Restoration/Renovation

2011 Associated Builders & Contractors (National) Excellence in Construction: Eagle Award

2011 Building Owners & Managers Association of Wisconsin: The Outstanding Building of the Year - Historical