Don Wheaton YMCA

Edmonton, Alb.
Construction Cost: $21 million (Canadian)
Area / Square Feet: 67,295
Occupancy Date: November 2007

Taking advantage of a downtown site and zero-setback condition, the designers of Don Wheaton YMCA sought to make a strong but appropriate connection between the activities within the building and the adjacent streetscape. This connection is seen as mutual — users of the facility feel connected to the fabric of the city, while passersby get an impression of the life within. Major active building components — the pool, donor plaza, child play area, multipurpose room, café and fitness center — were seen as the ingredients to make this connection real.

The large glazed volume of the pool acts as a beacon within the larger urban context, and connects its users to this fabric. At the more intimate pedestrian scale, translucent glass treatment gives only glimpses into the pool, appropriately balancing visual connection with privacy.

Further along the street and avenue, the continuous glazing of the pool and entry volumes gives way to punched openings, allowing an appropriate level of connection between the multipurpose room and child play area, while reinforcing the street edge with the sturdy warmth of brick.

The second-floor position of the fitness center allows users a view of the street and city, while providing the appropriate level of physical separation from passersby. The large glazed expanse of this space reveals the movement of users enlivening the building.