Sol Harris Day Architecture

Changing demographics and community program needs were the catalysts for a new vision for the Downtown Canton YMCA. Based on a study, the former YMCA recreational facility needed to be "re-invented" into an "urban executive" YMCA model. It was desired to be a workout facility that is not only responsive to its members, but a building that is smaller, more functional, energy efficient and inviting. To this end, the new Eric Snow YMCA aimed to focus on Downtown youth, senior citizens and the local business community.


  • Master Planning
  • Site Selection
  • Visualizations and Graphics
  • Facility Assessments
  • Sustainable Design
  • Architecture
  • Interior Design
  • Estimating/Scheduling

Site Orientation

Built on its former site, the Eric Snow YMCA gained design approval of the Downtown Canton Special Improvement District. As part of the Downtown revitalization, this health and wellness facility was sited to maintain the urban edge along Third Street while providing a public green space at the front of the building along Second Street. The arrangement offers a connection to the adjacent Timken High School green space, creating a park-like feel in this urban area.

The new Eric Snow YMCA building in Downtown Canton resulted in “a new image” and “catalyst” for youth development for urban children.

Tim Shetzer, CEO, YMCA of Central Stark County

Building Organization

SōL Harris/Day took the "vision" and  created a contemporary health and wellness building that is open, functional and sustainable. Designed to meet LEED Silver standards, the energy efficient structure has both clear and translucent window openings to let in natural daylight yet still provide privacy and control glare. The windows also help to highlight the physical activities that occur within the YMCA and the glow of the lights through the openings acts like a beacon to the surrounding area at night. The recreational facility features a gymnasium and warm water pool (catering to youth and seniors) and a second floor wellness area and group exercise room with panoramic views to the adjacent Downtown area.


  • Conducted a study that determined that it would be most beneficial to demolish the existing recreational building and construct a new, smaller, more energy efficient YMCA since current utilities were too costly to operate and space was largely underutilized.
  • Exterior materials were chosen to blend with the surrounding buildings. Traditional brick and detailing was used on the outer forms to relate to the historical area with a more contemporary center form, mimicking the landmark architecture of Timken High School. Belden Brick developed two special gray bricks that were used for the center form.
  • Interior materials were chosen to be high quality and low maintenance, allowing the YMCA to easily maintain the building, which in turn ensures the health and wellness center will foster a sense of civic pride. 
  • The red metal highlighting the main entrance along with elements of the interior design created opportunities to showcase the colors of the YMCA brand.
  • Designed to be very open, allowing natural light to filter in and, also, enabling staff to easily monitor access to every workout space from the front reception desk. 
  • Designed with a planned future addition that fills the northeast corner of the site to further define the city block, yet maintain green space. Steps were taken to ensure that utilities could be easily extended and construction of the addition could occur without effecting the operation of the main recreational building.

The Eric Snow YMCA is a clear demonstration of ‘form meets function’. This urban YMCA is not only attractive but utilizes materials and finishes that are durable and easily maintained. The exterior of the building projects a contemporary look and provides strong curb appeal to potential members.

Craig Greenlee, COO, YMCA of Central Stark County

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