Dalhousie University Dalplex Fitness Centre
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Client : Dalhousie University
Area : 54,500 sf
Program : State-of-the-Art Strength and Conditioning Centre, High Performance Training Centre, Fitness Studios, Multi-Purpose Studios, Changerooms, Social Commons, Administrative and Support Spaces
Associated Architects : Fowler Bauld & Mitchell Ltd.
Completed to meet one of the strategic advancement goals set forth in Dalhousie University’s Campus Master Plan of 2010, Dalplex Fitness Centre successfully expands the University’s recreation and athletic facilities to help promote student wellness and support related academic programming. Dalplex’s long, linear volume is located on the south end of campus on a steep slope that drops 20 feet from its front on South Street—the campus’s main arterial—to parking in the rear. This grade change allowed MJMA to embed the lower level into the site’s topography and scale the height of the two-storey building to match the surrounding residences.
Dalplex presents a sleek and inviting black facade modulated only by an expanse of dark-tinted glazing and a series of narrow vertical windows running the along the eastern portion of the street-facing elevation, emphasizing the primary entrance and strengthening its street presence. The building’s western end, prominent for its location at the entry to parking, terminates in a strikingly angular wall that projects like the point of an inverted trapezoid above the exterior circulation path. All this is set back from South Street behind an entry plaza with bike parking, hardscape, and planted beds of sedge, low spreading blueberries and other groundcover—a textured and resilient ground plane that serves to filter and take up groundwater—as well as intensive bioswales fashioned from long swaths of locally sourced stone.
The 57,000-square-foot interior is introduced via an entry plaza; from here, guests proceed down a wide staircase or accessible lift into an open lobby and administrative area. Here, a generous, light-filled concourse stretches the length of the building, leading to change rooms (men’s, women’s, and universal) and on to the amenities beyond. Given the site’s steep grade, MJMA was able to confine mechanical and building services to the subterranean northern edge, and position program elements along the southern elevation where they are fronted by expansive glazing. At either end of this concourse, cast-in-place concrete stairs provide access to the high-performance training centre and multipurpose studios on the second floor, where continuous windows and skylights ensure ample balanced daylight throughout.