By Mike Pearson, News staff
With its limestone masonry façade, pedestrian-focused outdoor spaces and inviting interior design, the Stoney Creek Recreation Centre is a popular spot for swimming, fitness and community events.
Now the building’s designers are sharing the spotlight.
Architects behind the Stoney Creek Recreation Centre have won a design excellence award from the Ontario Association of Architects.
RDH Architects Inc. and Lintack Architects Inc. partnered on the $10.8-million development, which opened its doors in August 2012 at 45 King St. W. in the heart of downtown Stoney Creek.
Geoff Miller, lead design architect for RDH, said the building incorporates numerous sustainable design features, including high efficiency mechanical systems.
But the structure is also visually inviting as well.
“We worked with the planning department in Hamilton to come up with a way of designing the space around the building, particularly the entry plaza and parking on the east side of the building, to make it much more user-friendly,” said Miller.
The parking area was designed using a Dutch concept known as Woonerf, which integrates pedestrians and vehicles in the same space.
“The idea is that cars will slow down and take their time and you can kind of walk where you please,” said Miller. “Rather than being surfaced in asphalt, the parking lot is surfaced in patterned concrete, with greenery mixed in. It’s a little more of a pedestrian-focused outdoor space.”
The rec centre’s exterior design salutes both the past and present with timeless building materials set in a contemporary style.
“We worked hard to integrate the building into the streetscape and into the language of Stoney Creek,” said Miller. “A major thing near there is the old Battlefield Monument, as well as some of the older brick, historic buildings along King Street. We thought a lot about how to create something that would, not necessarily imitate those, but have some features in common.”
A limestone masonry façade is coupled with glass, allowing passers by a glimpse of the pool area.
Miller said the project designers initially considered locating the building further away from the street towards Stoney Creek Arena.
“I think we realized pretty early in the process that it would be better to put the building closer to the street to kind of create a connection to the street,” said Miller. “By doing that, we’re also able to preserve a lot of the existing park there.”
Within the park itself, a storm water retention pond helps ensure major storms don’t overwhelm the municipal storm water system.
Within the building, designers used both structural and aesthetic elements to help define and separate the pool, meeting rooms and multi-purpose spaces.
“We were really determined and careful to make a beautiful building, something that used a modern language,” said Miller. “A contemporary architectural gem is what we were going for.”
The interior is organized with varied roof heights. Higher roof areas represent bigger spaces, such as the lobby, pool area and multi-purpose space.
“The three spaces are really the three hearts of the building and they’re each treated somewhat uniquely,” said Miller. “We try to make them colourful and kind of grand, each in their own way. They each have their own identity as you walk in. They each have different types of lighting, colours and slightly different material palates.”
Bill Birdsell, president of the Ontario Association of Architects, said the organization’s design excellence awards committee received more than 170 nominations this year in approximately 10 categories. The Stoney Creek Recreation Centre was honoured in the small scale institutional building category.
Birdsell called the development “contemporary and attractive.”
“In my opinion, it creates a lot of bright, inviting spaces for people to come and relax and enjoy. For us, that was the simple thing,” said Birdsell, a Guelph-based architect.
“It tells a very clear story. You can see the activity from the street, so it makes an important link to the community and downtown businesses near Battlefield Park.”
Chris Herstek, director of facilities and capital programs in the city’s recreation division, said the rec centre’s design is helping to attract a steady client base.
“It’s one of my favourite designs for a rec centre,” said Herstek. “The architects, RDH Architects and Lintack Architects were great to work with. They took all of our design concepts and our program needs and just brought a fabulous design.”
In 2013, the building’s first full year of operation, the centre had 5,406 registrants for aquatics programs and 1,654 users who signed up for gym and fitness programs.