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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
Located within a neighbourhood of single-family homes in Hamilton, Ontario, the Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre is a major expansion project that links with other structures and amenities to form a holistic, courtyard-like complex that is also a prominent destination for a broad demographic of users. The grey-tiled Centre occupies the northeast corner of the site and is designed as a distinct but natural extension of a grey-painted brick, heritage building – the Jimmy Thompson Memorial Pool, a much-loved civic facility. The Centre and Pool together face onto the MJMA designed park, which is further framed by the new North Secondary School and, across the street, Tim Horton’s field.   
The Centre and Park complement the amenities offered by these other facilities to provide a fully rounded wellness district at the heart of the city, making a healthy lifestyle accessible to a range of users. Within the Centre are a leisure pool, gymnasium and walking track, rentable rooms and activity rooms (including dedicated youth and seniors’ spaces), and a cafĂ© with a commercial kitchen and a lounge that has views and connections to exterior program elements. Outside, the park links the Centre to the other structures sharing the site; its focus is a four-season water feature that is a reflecting pond in the spring and fall, a summer splash pad, and a winter skating loop.
Lighting and views are key to the Centre’s sensitive integration of the site. Its glazed perimeter circulation at ground level visually connects interior to exterior; and these windows extend vertically to the upper storeys, to reveal the heritage structure of the Pool and the Centre’s elements that connect to it, including entrance, new elevator and stair, and accessible washrooms. This link also allows uninterrupted access from parking to the wheelchair viewing platforms of the pool’s upper seating level. The extensive glazing and over 60 square metres of skylights reduce the demand for electrical lighting. Views to the sky are offered throughout the building. Optimal performance daylighting permeates the gymnasium, while more diffuse light creates leisure spaces that promote quietude, reflection, teaching, and socializing.