The result of a dynamic partnership between the YMCA of Hamilton|Burlington|Brantford and Wilfrid Laurier University, the Laurier Brantford YMCA revitalizes the City of Brantford as a hub for community health, recreation and wellness. The two clients worked together through a highly collaborative design process that ensured all ideas and possibilities were uncovered and needs best met as they shaped a project to create exciting new opportunities for students and local residents.
Located at the confluence of a dynamic city edge, the center is conceived as an integrated design that offers the public a unified and cohesive experience asserting a new identity to the block and city as a whole. The design focuses on three themes – memory, movement and landscape – as it draws upon the rhythms and patterns of buildings that previously filled the location while creating new possibilities.
“This project marks the heritage of Brantford with purposeful touches like accenting the building’s glazing pattern along the Colborne Street facade with superimposed plot lines of mullions to retain the rhythm of the streetscape the YMCA replaced,” explains James Lai, project architect for CannonDesign. “And, at the same time, the programming, partnerships and energy this building makes possible all point to a more dynamic future for the city.“
The center revitalizes the city’s downtown and creates exciting opportunities for recreation programming.
The 120,000-sf facility includes:
- An aquatics center for lane swimming, swim lessons, aquatic fitness and therapy and leisure
- A dedicated childminding area
- Five inclusive changing rooms for families and all genders. Plus, there are four additional team changing rooms for Wilfrid Laurier athletics events
- A youth zone for focused recreational, social and leadership development programs
- A double gym designed for sports and competition with retractable stadium seating for 860 people and a supporting first aid and athletic therapy space
- Comprehensive cardio and weight training areas with WiFi capabilities for fitness programs and access to apps
- A single gym space for other recreation opportunities and programs
- Health intake consultation rooms for specialized community-based health care programs in partnership with Hamilton Health Sciences and Brant Community Healthcare System
- Three studios for a large variety of group fitness classes including cycling and dance among others
- Multi-purpose spaces for social, educational and cultural programming
- A Wilfrid Laurier student lounge for group work and socialization
The project received a prestigious Progressive Architecture (P/A) Award from Architect magazine in 2012 when it was in design. At that point, the jury said of the project: “It brings a historical neighborhood into the 21st century.”
The project is meaningful to its site as it replaces vacant row houses and is integrated into a sloped hillside to ensure it is visually pleasant and appropriate. Inside, the building welcomes abundant natural light and open views inside and out of the building.
The project was delayed 18 months due to an extensive archaeological dig that unearthed more than 400,000 artifacts dating from 500 BCE to the 21st century.