West Vancouver Aquatic Centre and Community Centre
LocationWest Vancouver, BC
On any given day, people flock to what is now the civic and social heart of West Vancouver. Hundreds go for the community programs. Hundreds more – families, seniors and youth – just hang out. Some spaces are used exactly as intended, many exceed expectations and now support programs that no one ever imagined.
The Community Centre is such a joy to be in, the positive energy of people connecting with people; design can be so powerful in creating a strong sense of place. The Atrium is my go to ‘office’ when meeting with community members to share ideas, concerns and above all else how much we love West Vancouver! Thank you for making us all a little bit better.
Trish Panz, Councilor, District of West Vancouver
At the start of this project, West Vancouver had a 35-year old recreation centre and a 25-year old civic pool that were disconnected, undersized and inefficient for delivering services the community needed. And the Civic Centre site clearly had the potential to be a vital community hub, but it lacked magnetism.
Now, the West Vancouver Aquatic and Community Centres stand together as a landmark community wellness facility offering recreation, arts and social community services, and a full-service community health centre, serving thousands annually.
The District of West Vancouver came to us to re-envision their facilities. But the Aquatic and Community Centres are actually the realization of the aspirations of the community of West Vancouver. Through extensive consultation, the community set the bar high with goals to: provide an open and engaging recreation facility, revitalize an important public site, and demonstrate environmental stewardship.
A Watershed Project for HCMA
The West Vancouver Aquatic Centre and Community Centre transformed and redirected us as a company. The community immediately adopted the design, but going back year after year, hearing people talk about the facilities and seeing how people make the spaces their own, these buildings are a living reminder of what meaningful community consultation and smart design can yield.
Setting Social Impact Success Markers for Architecture
Recognizing the depth of the impact of the West Vancouver Centres caught us off guard, and we started asking new and better questions about the social impact of our work as architects and designers.
HCMA Managing Partner, Darryl Condon says, “I can feel in my stomach that something important is happening. That’s what we are excited about evaluating and building on.”
Our industry has questions and markers to measure success against schedules, budgets, environmental or performance standards, but we need new markers to measure social impact and lasting social value. This project started us down that path.
Sue Ketler, Senior Manager, Community Services, District of West Vancouver describes the Community Centre like this: “I want you to imagine this for a moment … it is a sunny and warm day, the Atrium is busy, … and many children are running through the fountain, playing and climbing! Parents and grandparents sit and watch, some having a coffee from the café. The Tae Kwon Do class that was scheduled to be in the Spirit Room has moved onto the Great Lawn – so there are 30 kids in their white uniforms outside…. Sliders, on both the north and south sides are fully open, creating this amazing feeling of fresh air and wind…”
Sue’s description tells us more than how the programmatic needs are being met. The excitement and pride she exudes is a kind of success marker. But what impact does that have? How does the potential for a space change or increase when its users and stakeholders are genuinely moved by the design? These are the types of questions we now actively explore.
More about this project:
Building on the Past Uncovers Treasures
An Exemplary Civic Centre
Condon’s team has used every functional design-detail device that was practical in turning [the atrium] into a well-used and animated space, not the dull “corridor with pretensions” that is the fate of too many less well-conceived pedestrian streets and atria in Canadian Public buildings.
Trevor Boddy Author, Pools: Aquatic Architecture Hughes Condon Marler Architects