Vale Health and Wellness Centre
Port Colborne, Ontario
Client : City of Port Colborne / YMCA of Niagara
Area : 145,500 sf
Program : Aquatic Centre (6-Lane 25m Lap Pool, Leisure Pool, Changerooms), Twin-Pad Arena with Changerooms, Gymnasium, Fitness Centre, Indoor Track, Multi-Purpose Community Rooms, Administrative and Support Spaces, Outdoor Program (Six Soccer Fields, Three Baseball Diamonds, Six Bocce Courts, Playground, Multi-Use Trails)
In Port Colborne, Ontario—a town of 18,000 on the northeast shore of Lake Erie—the Vale Health and Wellness Centre is a multipurpose recreation facility and venue for sport, health and wellness, entertainment, and commerce. The Centre also provides a civic hub where locals can socialize or host large public events.
Inaugurated in 2013, the Centre sits on an 86-acre multi-sport park on the northeast outskirts of town, providing supporting amenities to its six outdoor bocce courts, six soccer fields, three baseball fields, and a playground, as well as hiking trails that connect to the Welland Canal trail system.
The Centre’s massing takes the form of two roughly rectangular volumes, erected with pre-engineered long-span components to enclose large, high-ceilinged spaces efficiently and economically. The larger volume, running east–west along the south end of the building site, contains two spectator ice arenas side by side; their sloping roofs are interrupted by a ridge where the arenas meet to allow for west-facing clerestories above the eastern arena. A second level holds a running track and weights studio that overlook the gymnasium below.
The gymnasium occupies the southern end of the secondary volume, which runs north–south, intersecting with the larger volume’s northeast corner; an aquatics hall with a six-lane, 25-metre lap pool and a wading pool occupy its northern end. Both gym and aquatics hall are generously daylit by towering translucent clerestories that run the length of the Centre’s eastern elevation.
The 145,500-square-foot interior program is designed to maximize functional space without compromising the performance of the sports surfaces. The Centre has achieved LEED Gold thanks to a high-performance mechanical system entirely contained within the building envelope, water- and energy-efficient fixtures, and construction that includes recycled materials.
Where the Centre’s volumes meet in L-formation, the exterior walls angle gently inward along the forecourt plaza, meeting at an oblique angle; at grade, the glazed façade is set back under a deep canopy for sheltered exterior views deep into the arrival concourse and pool to the east, and into the main arena viewing area to the south. Landscaped with a combination of flowerbeds, lawns, and hardscape, the forecourt hosts outdoor public events during the warmer months.
Today, the Centre is a thriving civic hub that employs roughly 60 people, and has become a local gathering place for all kinds of social activities, certifying an energetic, vibrant, and healthy community.