Making of Mosaic
Updated: Jul 3
When Mike and I first teamed up to build a gym together, we knew that we wanted to build in Berkeley. We both attended Cal as undergrads and still live in Berkeley, so we loved the idea of finding a place for a rad neighborhood gym in our hometown. We also wanted to explore the idea of creating a student-focused climbing gym for Cal students, since this is something we would have loved when we were in school..
The idea of a small, neighborhood gym was inspired by the intimate bouldering gyms that have popped up in Japan in recent years. We love the convenience and overall vibe of these small spaces and wanted to recreate that idea here in Berkeley.
If you've spent time near the Cal campus, you know that there aren't a ton of obvious places to build a climbing gym. The neighborhood mostly features small restaurants, apartments, and shops. So, during our search, there wasn't a giant warehouse that immediately screamed out "build here!".
Working with a great real estate broker, we found a rad building on Telegraph Ave. with high enough ceilings, just 486 feet from Sproul Plaza.
In designing the gym, we had to take a step back and really hone in on what our core offering would be, since we didn't have the luxury of building a mega-scale, full service gym like you'll find elsewhere in the Bay.
Our priorities were: maximize fun climbing terrain, offer the most important amenities for students, and create plenty of social space.
Here are the TL;DR highlights of the gym:
2,000 square feet of bouldering terrain
Mezzanine with fitness area
Programmable lockers, touchscreen vending machine, small retail shop
In terms of maximizing fun climbing terrain, we wanted to make sure we didn't sacrifice usability for the sake of squeezing in more climbing walls. We've seen gyms that build back-to-back bouldering walls that create awkward fall zones and leave little room for spectating & socializing, which was a mistake we didn't want to make.
We opted to build linear walls along the longest sides of the building, which kept the middle of our gym completely open, mitigated any overlap between seating & fall zones, and resulted in 2,000 square feet of rad (in our humble opinion) bouldering terrain.
Naturally, we wish we could have found a building twice this size and offered even more climbing and amenities. But, we feel like the smaller space forced us to stay true to our values as a gym: providing a space where you can develop as a climber, build community, and have a ton of fun.
One of our core beliefs about climbing is that it is an amazing vehicle for making friends & building community, which are two critical elements of the college experience. To facilitate this, we were intentional about leaving plenty of open space in our gym so that climbers can hang out, socialize, and relax between climbs.
We think it is especially important for college students to have social options that aren't limited to things like parties, bars, or clubs. While we think those things are rad, we also think it's important to have a place to meet people and socialize in the context of an activity like climbing.
Our design process resulted in what we believe will be a meaningful contribution to the neighborhood and the Cal student community. We’re a small, intentionally designed gym purely focused on providing great climbing and a place to build community, right down the street from the university.
As of this writing, construction is underway and we are aiming to open this Fall. We are so stoked to share this space with our local Berkeley communities, and can't wait to see you at the gym!
COO, Mosaic Boulders