University of Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre
Client : University of Guelph
Area : 169,500 sf
Program : Triple Gymnasium, 1,500-Person Spectator Seating, Fitness Centre, Weight Rooms, Treatment Centre, Assessment Areas, Concession, Administrative and Support Spaces
Completion : September 2016
Part of a multi-phase expansion and renovation project, the University of Guelph’s Gryphons Athletics Centre serves as a high-performance training facility for varsity athletes, a social and wellness hub for students on campus, and a regional events centre for the surrounding community. Acting as the point of arrival at the southeast end of the campus—the most prominent institution on the southeast end of Guelph—the Centre expands a 1957 athletics structure onto the site of a former parking lot.
The Centre’s 169,500-square-foot interior includes a state-of-the-art fitness facility and high-performance space with a club-like atmosphere, a triple gymnasium and event space with retractable bowl seating for 2,000 (surrounded by a running track), universal-access change rooms and varsity team rooms, studio rooms, a wrestling and combatives room, VIP and meeting rooms, a spacious student lounge, and a central lobby.
The lobby links new and existing spaces for a seamless rollout of renovated areas, and maximizes visibility throughout the interior using a series of interconnected bridges that look onto the layered program through glazed partitions. Here, interior walls are predominantly white and faceted, while interior circulation routes are lined with brilliant red, extending the branding and wayfinding strategy using the Gryphons’ signature colours.
The Centre’s sole street-facing elevation presents a strong and monolithic presence; bold and angular, clad in dark standing seam metal, this façade is split by a fissure-like ribbon of glazing bordered above and below with the Centre’s signature red. This glazed ribbon rises from street level at the southeast end of the façade—where it offers pedestrians views and admits controlled daylighting into the gymnasium space—and ramps up at the point of entry, giving the fitness mezzanine at the other end of the façade an elevated view of the street. This sculptural use of transparency simultaneously gives the Centre its striking and dynamic identity and keeps it visually open, inviting participation.
The glazed at the complex’s prominent new entrance is protected by a deep overhanging projection, sheltering it from direct sunlight and providing a canopy to the entry plaza. As a gateway that greets visitors to campus—and the point of arrival to the most-visited building on campus—this outdoor plaza is a natural setting for vehicular arrivals and drop-offs, outdoor wellness programs, casual seating, and public gatherings.