The Woolwich Memorial Centre is a dense public complex that brings together the Township of Woolwich’s recreational and community programs in a single facility in the heart of Elmira, a town of 12,000 people in Southwestern Ontario. It shares its block with rows of the single-family residences characteristic of the neighbourhood, as well as a playing field and running track used by the secondary school across the street.
The Centre’s massing comprises two large blocks clad in corrugated metal, wood, stone, and coloured glass. From the west, these blocks form a continuous façade that looks onto the neighbouring houses, but to the east, facing facility parking, a split-level roofline delineates the larger mass to the north—the arena block, activated by a wedge of patterned glazing at grade and, above, a row of coloured clerestories that illuminate the arena’s tiered spectator seating—and to the south, the aquatics hall and fitness studio, with abundant glazing that accentuates the main entryway.
In the aquatics hall, a six-lane 25-metre lap pool and leisure basin with wide, shallow steps are topped by a sustainable birch ceiling that contributes visual warmth and superior resistance to humidity and corrosion. On the aquatics hall’s south elevation, a curtainwall of multicoloured glass panels produces a Mondrianesque composition. From its mezzanine, the fitness studio offers views of the pool and the exterior terraces and playing fields to the south, as well as of the indoor concourse and running track that makes up the circulation system of the main area and provides sightlines throughout the interior. Both the aquatics hall and fitness studio windows are protected by deep setbacks, enabling glare-free southern exposure.
The Centre’s subdued interior palette of blond wood, white masonry, and silver corrugated metal—perforated in public gathering areas for sound absorption—provides a light and neutral backdrop for displays of team jerseys, championship banners, and other sports paraphernalia. Throughout, strategically placed accents indicate different program areas: vivid blue and orange in the arena and aquatics hall, back-painted glass in the reception and concession areas, and boldly painted team rooms.
As the product of a local fundraising effort initiated in response to the tragic death of local NHL hero Dan Snyder, the Centre has come to represent the community’s values of strength, resiliency, and generosity. Since its opening in 2009, the Centre has profited from a consistently full programming schedule and high attendance.