Written by Chris Orchard
Mark your calendars: the official grand opening for Somerville’s gargantuan new indoor rock climbing gym, Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, is July 31.
The gym at 12A Tyler St. in Somerville, off Somerville Avenue, is about two miles from the Arlington border, at Mass. Ave. and Alewife Brook Parkway.
The space is already open to “First Ascent” pass holders – those who bought a membership before June 7. On Tuesday afternoon, with construction workers, graffiti artists and furniture designers still working on the space, a number of climbers were already scaling the walls.
Brooklyn Boulders Somerville, with its 38,000 square feet of
space and a ground floor the size of a football field, is actually more than a
rock climbing gym.
Jesse Levin, a co-founder of the gym, called it "a blank slate for innovation [and] collaboration."
The gym uses rock climbing as a "medium" for bringing together disparate communities, from musicians to academics, artists, builders, dancers and others, he said.
It's formed partnerships with groups like the Cambridge
Innovation Center and Artisan's
Asylum, which is next door. It's a space where "unique, cool
collaboration happens," Levin said.
Levin called it a "hybrid community center, collaboration center" and said it brings "a little San Francisco vibe to the east coast."
When you first walk into the space, you probably won't be able to notice anything other than the huge climbing walls towering over you, but the gym will also be home to a cafe, pop-up retail space, a glassed-in lounge with a fireplace, a kids climbing area, party rooms, and a collaborative workspace loft with a caged-in meeting area and treadmill desks.
It will also have space for other fitness offerings, such as yoga, slackline yoga (yes, yoga done while balancing on a slackline), crossfit, capoeira and kettle-ball training. And, of course, you'll get things like elliptical and rowing machines.
The gym is in a huge space formerly occupied by the Ames Safety Envelope company, which was sold to a Wisconsin company in 2010.
It's the second Brooklyn Boulders facility. The first one, of course, is in Brooklyn.
"Somerville is like the Brooklyn of Boston," Levin said of their decision to open in this city. "It's cool, it's happening."
"We go for very very urban, highly populated areas," he said.
There are three types of rock-climbing walls at the gym: bouldering, which is
climbing with no ropes; auto belay, with automatic belaying machines that mean
you don't need a human spotter; and lead climbing, which is the sort of
climbing folks do when they scale cliffs in the wilderness, setting anchors and
clipping in as they go.
Walls not covered in hand-holds and climbing lines are adorned with graffiti art. Brand Rockwell, one of the artists, who works with Team Rekloos, was at Brooklyn Boulders Tuesday to work on a huge mural of a Red Line train, among other things. He said some of the best graffiti artists in Boston and beyond are represented on the walls.
Take a look at the photos above to get a sneak peek of the space.