Great Plains Recreation Facility (2016)

Location: Calgary, Alberta
Architects: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Ltd. + MTA
Date of Completion: 2016

OAA Awards 2017 Design Excellence Finalist 
Calgary’s new recreation facility program aims to develop centres that will provide accessible recreation opportunities and accommodate a variety of sports at different levels of play. The Great Plains tournament facility features two multi-purpose rinks along with a provision for a future twin pad, and brings together ice sport enthusiasts from across the city for hockey, sledge hockey, ringette, and figure skating. An inversion of the typical ice arena plan creates a light filled, uplifting central social space that elevates the form of the ‘Hockey Rink’ to having meaningful social and civic space.

North-West Elevation and Massing Diagrams/ Photo Credit: Shai Gil/ Diagram Credit: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Ltd. + MTA 

As a civic anchor of the east City edge, the Great Plains Recreation Facility is a social and architectural catalyst for this industrial area. The project elevates the architectural expression in the area and sets an example for subsequent developments. The area is characterized by large light industrial buildings. The building design is fully integrated with the storm water path of the landscape and the building is beamed into its landscape, ameliorating and integrating the building mass with the earth. The facades are layered and dematerialized upward, from black, to zinc, to white with glazed paneling blending with the sky.

Site Plan, Floor Plan/ Diagram Credit: MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Ltd. + MTA 

The torqued hexagonal plan responds to the forces of the site. The perimeter defines the lower building’s volume of change, mechanical, and administrate areas. The higher arena volumes are connected as a singular hexagon capturing screened mechanical spaces. The south and north upper facades allow for controlled clerestory light to the rinks, while skylights illuminate the centre. 

Entrance Lobby/Photo Credit: Shai Gil

A bright orange Boolean extrusion acts as the entrance signifier mimicking the low western sunset. This orange glow of hockey goal mesh pattern creates a warm hearth-like gesture in the long winter evenings of this snowy landscape. Internally illuminated orange HDPE panels are used to frame the two change room entrances. A clear architectural concept for color is used as way finding and the building’s expression.

Entrance Lobby/Photo Credit: Shai Gil

This project takes one of the most vital but underappreciated community spaces and inverts its typical planning to create a true civic hub. Recreation Facilities are civic spaces that create healthy communities; but their design should also foster meaningful social engagement. A typical arena arranges the team rooms at the center of the facility with seating above or on the perimeter with diffuse social spaces. By placing the change rooms to the periphery, a central social space is created at the ‘Heart’ of the building. This contiguous warm-side cold-side viewing creates a ‘place’ for social activity.                                                                                                                                                                                
Flag as Inappropriate