GGA On Design
The Chestermere Civic Recreation Centre and the threefold design enterprise
On August 19, 2021, Chestermere’s Mayor Marshall Chalmers, with other City officials, broke the ground for the new Chestermere Civic Recreation Centre. Our own, David Wittman, GGA’s Partner-in-Charge on the project, brought a unique vision to the day’s celebrations and design more generally. The structure is a future “civic” node, Wittman quipped on Thursday, an intersection of cultural activities, sports, and diverse populations.
These convictions helped shape the building conceptualization and design, as did ample research, context understanding, and a vision for the topography on which it will sit. Chestermere is a family-focused community with a spirit for leisure and relaxation, which played a key role in the visualizing process. As a result, threefold principles VISIBILITY, VERSATILITY and VITALITY, emerged as a response to the surrounding context, City’s demands and the Centre’s basic needs.
The Chestermere Civic Recreation Centre (CCRC) will be a destination for civic and community gatherings, and, to this end, the notion of visibility is essential. The visibility unfolds in several important ways—first, the visibility of the facility as a whole. The rotation of the large footprint orients the building toward Chestermere Boulevard, allowing for exciting and interesting views of the CCRC as well as providing opportunities for branding and signage. The massing of the building begins to slope and fold strategically, revealing the second-story community program and allowing for additional views into and out of the architecture. In another way, the visibility shows the activities that happen in and around the building. For example, glazing in the fitness and multipurpose space at grade creates interaction between indoor and outdoor spaces, and the shared visibility of sport becomes apparent. The CCRC will accommodate soccer, football, rugby, lacrosse, cricket and more.
Visibility is also crucial within the program layout. The layout of the teams’ rooms is staggered to allow for easy wayfinding and clear sightlines from reception. The centralized reception desk and open lobby contribute to easy wayfinding and to a safe, accessible space. The lobby, the fitness space and the circulation corridor all have views into the fieldhouse where the activity is on display.
In Chestermere, the CCRC will become part of a community with diverse opportunities for sport and recreation. The capacity for flexibility will go a long way towards supporting their civic and recreation needs. The space versatility is a concept that permeates the project both indoors and outdoors. Inside the building, a social stair in the main lobby fluctuates between being an arena for informal team meetings, casual encounters, seating for community meetings or film screenings or simply a staircase leading to the viewing gallery. The multipurpose spaces transform from rooms dedicated to different activities into large open areas fit for galas, community functions, and larger gatherings. A small open green plaza can serve multiple functions such as performances, lawn games, and picnics. An area of hard play surface that allows for pickup basketball games in summer, in winter, can turn into a rink when flooded with water. The pathways through the site promote the versatility of transportation serving both pedestrian and bicycle traffic and support the multi-modal movement.
Finally, the notion of vitality captures the energy and movement involved in sport and in the vision of Chestermere as a whole. Dynamic gestures in the volume of the building are indicative of the activity happening within. Long sloping movements of material and colour changes in the facade design and continue the language of the fieldhouse volume to capture the notion of vitality. The spirit of the building and the community rests in the kinds of spaces included within and the diversity of activities they support. The facility provides a meeting place for community gatherings, civic functions, tournaments, and day-to-day activities that will directly connect to the Bridgeport area commercial centre. This central location will link the residential communities to the commercial area along Chestermere Boulevard. The outdoor spaces will be used to stage more significant community events like “fun runs” or markets. At the same time, they will serve day-to-day activities and make a place for people to gather to skate, for example, play pickup basketball, or just play chess. Vitality as a unifying principle connects to the concepts of visibility and versatility to capture the vibrancy and spirit of Chestermere, a community in progress and growth, characteristics explored in depth in the building design.