Rendering of people enjoying the various pools with natural light

Burnaby Lake Aquatic and Arena Facility


Burnaby, BC

The Burnaby Lake Aquatic & Arena Facility was designed to be a destination recreation centre at the heart of Burnaby Sports Complex in B.C., Canada. The project began in 2019 with engagement, needs assessment and test fits, and was carried through to the completion of tender documents. In fall of 2023, the project as designed was abandoned related to the cost impacts of market and construction escalation.

Designed to enhance health and wellness for the community, the design for the facility was focused to encourage participation for people of all ages, abilities, genders, and cultures, while leading the way in sports excellence.

The facility was also designed to enhance its unique local ecosystem, and was aiming to become a leader in sustainable operations for the City of Burnaby.


Areas of impact

A render of a building with lots of glass from street view.
From casual play to sporting excellence

Replacing the aging Burnaby Lake Arena and CG Brown Pool—while maintaining the Bill Copeland spectator arena—the facility included a NHL-sized ice rink, a destination aquatic centre, and various informal gathering and play areas.

The aquatic centre included a ten lane, 50-metre pool, with a moveable floor and bulkheads to enable competition, training, and community swimming. Grandstand seating for 750 spectator and three diving platforms—one-metre, three-metre, and five-metre heights—were also included.

But the aquatic facility wasn’t just for competition. A five lane, 25-metre pool, a leisure pool, a family-sized hot pool, a wellness zone, sauna, and steam rooms were all aspects designed to welcome community participation. All amenities were designed to be fully accessible through ramps and lifts, and universal washrooms and gender neutral change rooms were included throughout the design of the building.

Beyond the pools, a café, multi-purposes spaces and child-minding facilities were included to contribute to the facility being a welcoming space for people to meet up, hang out, work out, and relax.

Interior of Burnaby Lake Aquatic and Arena Facility. People are walking and sitting in the main area/reception amongst the organic skylights and art piece on the ceiling.
Inspired by the history of Burnaby Lake

Our design was influenced by the history of Burnaby Lake, a former wetland and Indigenous fishing place to the west of the site. The lake was infilled by settlers, before being dredged to allow for rowing events. Over time, nature reclaimed the lake, changing it back to a seasonal marshland with salmon returning to their habitat.

Inspired by this tension between humans and nature, we designed the building as a series of man-made forms placed within the landscape, separated and sculpted over time. The intention was to connect people to the nature and ecology of their local place.

Each large volume contained the formal programmatic elements—the arena and each of the pools—with ‘natural’ spaces in-between for the informal program elements—the hot pools, universal change rooms, wellness features, and shared social spaces.

Large glazing was placed to offer expansive views across Burnaby Lake Park, again with the intention of connecting visitors to the surrounding landscape.

Environmental performance

The new Burnaby Lake Aquatic and Area Facility was designed to be one of the lowest carbon emission buildings of its type in Canada, producing just 10kg/CO2/m2/yr.

To allow the facility to become carbon neutral by 2030, the design included a highly efficient envelope, water management, and building systems. The building was designed to draw electricity exclusively from BC Hydro, divert 90% of construction waste from landfill, and to reuse rainwater to top up the pool. Heat recovery between the ice rink and swimming pool further was designed to reduce carbon emissions, while extensive bioswales help manage stormwater runoff and protect the water quality of the Burnaby Lake ecosystem.

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