Six months have passed since the Winston Family YMCA opened its doors along the bank of the St. Johns River to a growing community in surrounding Jacksonville, Fla., communities of Brooklyn and Riverside.

On Tuesday, dozens of runners galloped on treadmills on the YMCA’s second floor, all of them running toward their commanding river view.

“For our members, this is their piece of the river,” said Winston Family YMCA Chief Operating Officer Penny Zuber. “This is their piece of the river. They love it.”

Designed by RS&H, the Winston Family YMCA is living up to its promise of attracting more First Coast residents through its doors and to Jacksonville’s budding Riverwalk. After nearly five years of design and construction, the new, $21 million, 72,000-square-foot facility eagerly opened its doors to the First Coast in August 2016.

The RS&H project team provided architecture, interior design, and engineering services for the LEED-certified building. On Tuesday, the team presented the YMCA staff with a plaque dedicating the building to the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast’s boards of directors and trustees.

“This was a special project for us,” said Dan Heumann, RS&H’s architect and project manager. “This is a signature building for Jacksonville and the riverbank.”

The first floor features a chapel, two indoor pools, a Healthy Living Center, and community kitchen and café. The second floor houses the gymnasium, group exercise studios, and a wellness floor with a running track that follows as curving, glass-front design that overlooks panoramic views of the St. Johns River and Downtown Jacksonville.

The facility is home to the nation’s first Health Living Center, which is a community of private-sector healthcare entities, including Brooks Rehabilitation, Florida Blue, and Baptist Health Care. While the partnership between these organizations and the YMCA exemplifies its mission to improve the well being of Northeast Florida residents, the design team’s final product represents the efforts to revitalize a community through this flagship facility.

So far, that’s exactly what the new Winston Family YMCA has done.

“We are exceeding our expectations,” Zuber said. “People are really awed by it. It’s one of the best Ys in the country.”

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Joe VanHoose
Joe VanHoose
Joe is a storyteller with more than a decade of experience in media relations, with particular specialty in writing and promoting. He can be reached at