Jack, Will & Rob Youth Center

Experience Narrative

‘The Jack, Will and Rob Center grew into a place that was like a three-chambered heart, each chamber being an artistic area for a child: visual arts, computer arts and a music-theater area.’
Geri Pope-Bidwell, Founder

This youth center was inspired by the lives of three brothers who perished tragically in an airplane crash on Thanksgiving Day, 1999. Each intervention is designed as a moment of discovery, relevant to its context, always returning to a theme of creative inspiration and renewal.

Donor Recognition
This donor recognition wall is an expression of generosity being inseparable from the institution’s existence. 4000 names are printed directly onto and into this stained concrete wall.

Children’s Gallery Entry
A poem by Rumi greets and inspires kids entering the art gallery. Rather than placing the text at sixty inches from the floor as is the norm, the poem is placed at forty inches in order that it be more easily seen by those this center seeks to inspire.

Mickey Mantle Koan
The Mickey Mantle Koan is a meditation by David James Duncan the power and meaning of heroes, excerpted from his memoir River Teeth. It recounts the loss of his only brother to illness when they were teenagers. At their mother’s request, Mickey Mantle autographed a baseball and mailed it to their home.

It arrived one day after his brother passed away. David donated the autographed ball, his brother’s mitt, their practice ball and the use of the story.

Each of the thirteen pages is letter-pressed onto mitt leather. It is left exposed. Over time, left to light and constant touching by passersby, the leather pages will patina just like your old mitt.

O’Keefe Window Installation
An O’Keefe quotation about the expressive power of color was installed as an engraved pane of colored glass in the art room.

Activity Rooms
There are three primary activity rooms – art, music and computer sciences – each reflecting one of the boys’ passions. We were asked to find a way to discreetly include a picture of each boy playing with one of the three surviving sisters.

The glazing on each door is designed such that each image appears and disappears depending on the light and position of the door relative to the viewer. The images are ephemeral as memories. Many people visit the center several times before they are struck with the recognition.

Center Court
Ray Hickey was a local, self-made businessman. He became a major donor to the Jack, Will and Rob Center when he funded the gymnasium. He was famous for the quote pictured above. It is placed at center court to be seen up close at every tip-off.