Branksome Hall Athletics & Wellness Centre
Client : Branksome Hall
Area : 72,000 sf
Program : Aquatic Centre, Gymnasium, Fitness Centre, Yoga and Dance Studios, Meeting Rooms, Dining Hall, Servery, Kitchen, Open Courtyards, Ravine Terraces
Completion : January 2015
Branksome Hall was established as an independent all girls school in the residential South Rosedale Heritage Conservation District in the urban heart of the City of Toronto — now a leading International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. The campus is set within a large property characterized by lush, wooded ravine edges and open green spaces. The city’s extension of Mount Pleasant Road divided the campus into two sides and the students cross via a pedestrian bridge.
The new Athletic and Wellness Centre (AWC) serves as the campus-wide meeting and gathering space, with places to watch sport, and encourages students to interact and engage with athletics. The 2-storey building with accessible ravine and rooftop terraces, connects to (and re-clads) the existing pedestrian bridge, linking the east and west campuses.
The AWC was initiated by the school as an effort to raise healthy living and wellness amongst the student population and staff. A primary goal was to become a campus hub and create a living-learning environment within Branksome Hall’s culture of care. Another major goal was to promote openness and connectivity without compromising student safety. A major challenge was to fit the large program volumes onto the limited building footprint and within the 12metre residential height restriction. The aquatic hall is set one level below grade with the gymnasium above. Natural light is generous to the lower level aquatic hall through strategically placed ground floor glazing. The aquatic hall is visible from a floating viewing gallery above, and surrounding concourse social spaces. These popular glazed viewing areas allow students to watch athletic activity – inspiring involvement in the campus sport community. Large program spaces are balanced with intimate social interaction and study spaces with visual connections to nature and the ravine. The dinning hall is designed for over 300 students to sit and enjoy their meals together. It also doubles as an assembly and conference space. The open concept kitchen and servery allows students to watch and learn about the food preparation, where their food comes from, and education on healthy food choices.
“For generations to come, the AWC will provide girls with facilities that will encourage them to weave physical activity, recreation and healthy food choices into their daily lives. Fitness and health really supports them and their ability to see themselves confidently."
Karen L. Jurjevich, School Principal