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A rural fitness center is pure design muscle

Custom fabrication turns this Humboldt, Kansas, gym into a destination

A modern building with a gabled roof and gray metal facade. The ends of the building are clad in rust-toned metal that looks like a raised checkerboard pattern.
Designed by Hufft Projects, the Humboldt Fitness Center is located in rural Kansas.
Courtesy of Hufft Projects

When B&W—a manufacturer of trailer hitches—began working on a fitness center, it didn’t set out to build a community beacon, but the project soon became just that. Over time, fitness center evolved from a space for B&W’s employees into a destination open to anyone living in Humboldt, Kansas, a small town about 100 miles east of Wichita.

A person walks in front of a long, low-slung building clad in standing-seam gray metal.
Designed for B&W—a local manufacturer that employs about 400 people in a town of 1,800—the building shows off the company’s fabrication abilities. The custom metalwork was fabricated in-house by B&W.
Courtesy Hufft Projects

The modern, 10,000-square-foot building has a simple silhouette that riffs on local barns. Inspired by industry, the exterior is clad in dark gray standing-seam steel, with custom details that enliven the facade. The designers at Hufft Projects—an architecture firm and fabrication shop with locations in Kansas City, Missouri, and Bentonville, Arkansas—collaborated with the in-house fabrication team at B&W to create rust-toned sculptural walls reminiscent of origami and a laser-cut steel awning with a lattice pattern. These elements, designed to show off B&W’s fabrication abilities, helped the project win a “Divine Detail” award from the Kansas City chapter of the AIA.

“The simple agrarian form makes it familiar and not too foreign,” architect Matthew Hufft says.

An indoor basketball with white-washed wood walls and a white painted ceiling
Inside, Hufft Projects used lighter finishes to create a space that speaks to health and wellness
Courtesy Hufft Projects

The stark exterior belies a softer interior finished in light wood and neutral tones—an inviting space that emphasizes health and wellness.

“Towns like Humboldt are disappearing everyday in America,” Hufft says. “To be a part of keeping it alive, means a lot. To design something that really has become a city center city and beacon of hope is very special.”