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Project Details
Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre
Hamilton, Ontario

Client : City of Hamilton
Area : 55,000 sf
Program : Aquatic Centre (Leisure Pool with Hyrdotherapy Area), Upgrades to Existing Jimmy Thompson Pool, Gymnasium, Fitness Studios, Indoor Track, Multi-Purpose Community Rooms, Social Lounge, Meeting Rooms, Cafeteria with Commercial Kitchen, Administrative and Support Spaces, Four-Season Feature: Skating Loop, Splash Pad, Reflecting Pool
Completion : December 2018
A major expansion project in a neighbourhood of single-family homes in Hamilton, Ontario, the Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre was designed to create a unified environment that not only links to existing structures on the site—notably, the heritage Jimmy Thompson Memorial Pool—but also joins the site to neighbouring attractions. The grey-tiled Centre, occupying the northeast corner of its site, joins the grey-painted brick Pool building to the southeast to form a continuous façade along the new east-facing elevation. Together, Centre and Pool occupy a hockey stick–shaped footprint that wraps around parking to the south; to the north, it frames an outdoor recreation area visually contiguous with the large plaza outside Tim Hortons Field across the street.
Alongside these existing facilities, the Centre expands the area’s recreation amenities into a fully rounded health and wellness district at the heart of the city, making a healthy lifestyle accessible to a broad range of local users. Within the new Centre are a leisure pool, a gymnasium and walking track, rentable rooms and activity rooms including dedicated youth and seniors’ spaces, and a commercial kitchen, café and lounge with views overlooking exterior program elements. Outside, the Centre offers a park space that connects it to both the Pool and the secondary school that shares the site, as well as its four-season feature, a reflecting pond in the spring and fall, summer splash pad and winter skating loop.
The strategy behind the Centre’s solid massing is one of efficiency of space, and of its sensitive integration with the existing heritage buildings and unity throughout the site. The Centre’s glazed perimeter circulation at ground level offers excellent visual connection from the interior to the exterior; extended vertically to the upper storeys, this glazing offers strategic visual connections between the new elevator, entrance, accessible washrooms, and a stair that connects the Centre to the existing pool facility. Here, uninterrupted access reaches all the way from parking to the wheelchair viewing platforms of the pool’s upper seating level. This extensive glazing, combined with over 60 square metres of skylights, ensures optimal daylighting throughout the interior, significantly drawing down electrical demands and offering views to the sky throughout the building.