Project DescriptionSiteAn edge-of-downtown tract in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, with a three-story drop toward the Grand River basin to the south.
Program A community center with facilities that include gyms, a pool, a variety of fitness spaces, classrooms, offices, a lounge, and a café.
SolutionThe Laurier Brantford YMCA Athletic Complex, designed by the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, office of Cannon Design, is sponsored by community and university organizations, with support from local, provincial, and national governments. The design for the 15,100-square-meter (162,535-square-foot) complex addresses key urban-design objectives: opening vistas over the nearby river basin, developing a new pedestrian route up and down the escarpment, and recalling the line of commercial fronts that previously characterized the site. (The last of these is of particular resonance because the site only became available when the city demolished a row of buildings on an otherwise built-up commercial street.)
The jurors emphasized the project’s positive urban contributions, which—predicted juror Ann Beha—“will make a huge difference in this place.” At the street level at the top of the sloped site, the building reads as only a two-story volume, containing a lobby, a retail café, and fitness studios. At this level, the bar structure more than a block long is visually divided in the irregular rhythm of the former storefronts. Gyms, pool, and related facilities are recessed into the slope. Green roofs, which are accessible to the public, cover the volumes embedded in the hillside. Juror Mary-Ann Ray appreciated that all of this was achieved without altering the scale of the neighborhood. “It brings a historical neighborhood into the 21st century in a way. It sort of modernizes the city.”