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Project Details
University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia

Client : University of British Columbia / UBC Properties Trust
Area : 58,000 sf
Program : 10-Lane 54m FINA Competition Pool, 10-Lane 25m Warm Up Pool and Diving Well with Moveable Floor, Warm Water Leisure Basin with Lazy River
Completion : January 2017
ISSUU Link : https://issuu.com/mjmarchitects/docs/university_of_british_columbia_aqua
Associated Architects : Acton Ostry Architects
UBC’s Aquatic Centre deftly serves three diverse groups—elite international athletes, campus residents, and the wider community—within a single welcoming structure that acts as a gateway between a nearby transit plaza and the university’s athletics precinct and campus beyond it. Towering windows face the public plaza, linking the Centre’s interior to the campus outside, revealing sightlines deep into the heart of the building, and inviting passersby to enter.

Inside, the Centre’s facilities include a 51-metre Olympic-standard swimming pool incorporating an innovative floor-level ventilation system that keeps air quality at the water’s surface exceptionally high; a 25-metre diving pool with an adjustable-height floor; and a warm-water leisure zone. While all these aquatics amenities share a single hall, the space is organized into two distinct zones—one for competition and one for daily community use—by a row of massive Y-shaped columns topped by a linear skylight that runs the length of the building. Spectator bleachers are positioned on a mezzanine level along the east wall, atop administrative spaces, to free up the bulk of the remaining ground-floor space for the change rooms, which are situated alongside the plaza-facing west fa├žade. These change rooms incorporate a range of private and universal options for maximum inclusivity and accessibility to all swimmers. Together with accessible elevators and ramped entries, these inclusive change rooms have earned the Centre a Gold Certification from the RHFAC program.

The faceted, gently sloping and low-slung roof houses some of the Centre’s most sustainable features. The rooftop collects rainwater, used to top up the basins, irrigate the landscape, and supply greywater to the washrooms. Its skylight is fitted with diffusion glass and augmented by the use of semitransparent partitions that help scatter light throughout the interior, providing ample illumination during daylight hours; this is supplemented by artificial lighting controlled by sensors to minimize its use.