Equinox River Oaks

Will Speros • January 10, 2018

Photos: Equinox River Oaks

Spread across 32,000 square feet, the multi-height Equinox changed the fitness game when it opened in the affluent River Oaks suburb of Houston at the end of 2016. Spearheaded by HOK, the project marked the first collaboration between the firm’s Houston and New York offices, with a design that reflects the qualities of the historic community, citing its neighborhood and landmarks as inspiration.

“It was critical to set the tone for the brand, encompassing not just health and fitness but also a contemporary lifestyle and upscale and immersive approach to wellness and to provide space for members to congregate and connect,” says Migda Colón, project manager for HOK.

Embracing both the sophisticated beauty and rugged countryside synonymous with Texas, the location is largely informed by the architecture of John Staub, who designed many of the area’s homes between the 1920s and 1960s. The surroundings are highlighted with elements such as rough concrete installed to contrast more polished metal finishes. The raw material palette is also offset with an energetic lighting design as well as plush textiles and curvilinear furniture found throughout lounge areas.

A sleek steel reception desk was chosen for its visible imperfections, which convey unique craftsmanship and strength. The interior’s main focal point, however, is a blackened steel staircase framed with metalwork to naturally draw the eye upward. The stairs connect with a double-stacked striped wood feature on the mezzanine that forms a bridge between the lounge and the locker rooms. “Rather than having signage that directs guests to these areas, this material is stately and brings purpose to something that might otherwise be ordinary or an afterthought,” Colón explains.

Gold metallic tiling adorns the weightlifting areas in a loose reference to the many oil and gas companies that also call Houston home. To ensure enhanced acoustics, the HOK team integrated a jack slab along with other applications selected for their softness—a departure from traditionally masculine gym aesthetics.

“There is often a tendency with contemporary interiors to rely on hard surfaces—concrete and metals—sleek furnishings, and overhead bright lighting, which can overwhelm an environment and blanket a space,” adds HOK director of interior design Randa Tukan. “We wanted to make sure that the space identified with Houston and the surrounding area to create warmth.”

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