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Project Details
Walker Sports and Abilities Centre
Thorold, Ontario

Client : Canada Games Host Society, Inc.
Area : 212,400 sf
Program : Twin-Pad Arena with Changerooms, Rowing Tank, Changerooms, Four-Court Gymnasium, Indoor Track, Rehab and Training Centres, Office Space, Administrative and Support Spaces, Outdoor Program (Beach Volleyball Courts, Track, Bicycle Pavilion)
Associated Architects : Raimondo + Associates, Architects Inc.
The Walker Sports and Abilities Centre (Canada Games Park) and Rowing Centre will serve as a central hub and venue during the 2022 Canada Games in Niagara, Ontario, and—after the Games have ended—for Brock University and the wider community. Given these dual timelines, the Centre is designed both to serve large public events and gatherings and to foster the surrounding campus’s continued evolution, directing new growth to the south and ensuring the Centre’s continuing economic sustainability.

Together with their supporting spaces, the Centre’s three main sports halls—a glazed quadruple gymnasium, a 1,000-seat spectator arena and a practice arena—comprise over 210,000 square feet, all topped by a triangular canopy folded to meet the various height requirements of the spaces below. At the fissure between the sports halls, a central axis connects a new ceremonial plaza entrance to the north and parking to the south, carving out a social space that offers interior circulation and lobby views into the athletics halls. This central sky-lit atrium also connects a range of programmed spaces distributed across two storeys, including rehab and training centres, administrative offices and meeting rooms.

The Centre’s new entrance plaza emphasizes the links with and between the communities that surround it—including enhanced pedestrian connections to key points on campus, bike paths, gardens, outdoor play spaces and events spaces—harnessing the dynamic of the site as an important node for the campus’s future development.

The building itself is designed with maximum ecological sustainability in mind. The gently faceted roof is covered by vegetation, and low-e ceramic-frit glazing is used extensively to mitigate heat gain while suffusing the main sports halls with passive daylighting. An HVAC system designed for high-efficiency ventilation and a heat-recovery system that couples the arenas’ cooling plant to in-floor radiant heating, as well as a high-efficiency envelope (including walls with an R-value of R30 and a roof of R-value R35) further reduce its energy draw.
Finally, a vegetated landscape buffer protects the surrounding wetlands from runoff. These exterior gathering areas, circulation routes and streetscapes will cultivate a diversity of spaces inspired by the surrounding city and the Niagara Escarpment’s rich natural heritage.