Project in Detail
West Vancouver Community Centre
West Vancouver, Canada
Hughes Condon Marler Architects, Vancouver, Canada
World Architecture Festival 2010 - Shortlisted
THE FACTS: SITE + CONTEXT + PROGRAM
The West Vancouver Civic Centre site is envisioned as the primary public precinct within West Vancouver’s extensive network of facilities, and the replacement of the venerable Community Centre is the last major step in realizing this ambition. Rejuvenation of the site has included renovations and additions to the Ice Arena, the Seniors’ Activity Centre and the Aquatic Centre. The new Community Centre is the most socially and programmatically complex of these ventures. It operates as a hub that connects the civic campus through its dual entry points.
A complex property line forces the massing of the new building to negotiate a number of site conditions. Responsible resource management is made possible by addressing the site as a campus rather than a series of independent structures. Geothermal energy is created on site and shared symbiotically between all the buildings. The Great Lawn establishes usable public green space along the key artery through West Vancouver and connects the larger community to the site.
The program is organized and grouped according to components’ relative publicness: cellular and private rooms are consolidated into cores, while activity rooms are open, and borrow light from the spine and atrium. The program is made legible via the strategic deletion of portions of the façade, revealing more extroverted activities and maintaining privacy for those that require it. Glazing binds the building, blurs the boundaries between programs, while providing visual continuity and natural light.
A community centre project for a municipality is a significant investment—fiscally, socially and, in some cases, ideologically. It represents a society’s commitment to the betterment of its citizens physically and psychologically. The West Vancouver Community Centre seeks to, at a minimum, live up to these aspirations. The project presents a new approach to community centre design, looking toward the future, while revitalizing an important civic site.
The building is the social heart of the community. Situated on a Civic Centre site that contains a variety of civic buildings and functions, this project was intended to be the defining element of community life on the site. It unifies and connects the various functions and provides focus to the new and improved public outdoor spaces. Together, the campus forms the most important collection of public buildings in the municipality.
With clarity and simplicity of organization, this building replaces an aged community centre. 89% of the previous building was reused in the new facility. Materials reused include wood decking, structural beams and crushed concrete and masonry. The atrium and gym are sited according to massing requirements and connected to accommodate the remaining program. Volumes and floorplates involve subtle shifts, shears and bends according to programmatic requirements. The buildings are pulled apart creating a circulation spine. A gross building area of 83,000 square feet – 53,000 square feet is allocated to the Community Centre proper, 20,600 square feet to the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and 9,000 square feet to other project partners.
The atrium, both a transparent welcoming gateway and the connective tissue between Community and Aquatic Centres, allows multiple readings: it is a formal gathering space with views to the Great Lawn and mountains beyond, as well as a casual passageway between buildings. Its scale is decidedly civic and it provides truly democratic space that is flexible and stimulating.
The strong architectural form is a site specific response to a series of particular restrictions and constraints. The result is a series of highly dynamic spaces that are both coherent and intuitive. Experientially, the active spaces are filled with natural light and fresh air.
The building’s luminous three-storey circulation spine works as the building’s primary artery, linking gymnasiums, fitness rooms and wellness clinics both physically and visually. The spine is articulated along its length with operable skylights that allow sunlight and fresh air to enter the building. Colourful bridges on the upper levels offer casual moments of pause and opportunities for small scale social interaction.
The facility provides a comprehensive mix of Community Recreation and Community Health functions in a unique wellness centre that includes spaces for sport, dance, art, health education, health clinics, music, childcare and a variety of social interaction. In doing so, it combines the operations of six different organizations (two pubic, two private and two not-for-profit) in a seamless way so that public service and synergies are maximized.
Hughes Condon Marler Architects
Daniel Lyzun & Associates Ltd.
McSquared System Design Group Inc.
Scott Construction Group
Hunter Laird Engineering Ltd.
Client / Developer
District of West Vancouver
LMDG Building Code Consultants Ltd.
Trow Associates Inc.
Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg
Fast + Epp Structural Engineers