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Aaniin Community Centre and Library

Markham, ON
Construction Cost: $52 Million (Canadian)
Area / Square Feet: 122,000 sf
Occupancy Date: December 2017

The Aaniin Community Centre and Library contains a triple gymnasium, an aquatics center, a fitness center, multiuse rooms and a branch library, as well as a host of ancillary, food service and change room spaces. Anchored on either side by generous public plaza spaces, and connected to a large district park along its eastern boundary, the center encourages a more urban and sustainable pattern of growth within this rapidly burgeoning part of the city.

A massive wood roof serves as a powerful unifying design element, pulling the various programs and spaces together. The sense of connection is heightened by the overall transparency between spaces, blurring boundaries between programs. The expansiveness of the roof also frames a series of new outdoor rooms around the building, including a reading garden, a youth terrace and a marketplace.

Internally, the building features a generous open gathering space and stage flanked by amphitheater seating, flexible storage areas and open mezzanines. Designed with specialized lighting, acoustics and a sophisticated AV system, this open gathering space functions much like a public square, enabling the center to host a variety of events ranging from an intimate dance recital to a bustling cultural celebration or Bollywood movie night for 500 people.

Myriad rich colors and patterns read within the center’s glazing, furniture and accent walls, as well as through its expressive wood roof — a physical embodiment of the center’s name, an Ojibway word meaning “welcome.”

Aaniin Community Centre

Judge's Comments

“Beautiful use of wood structure, natural color palette, and sustainable daylighting and natural ventilation strategies.” — Nathan Harris

“The powerful wood roof form unifies all the program spaces and provides a symbolic and environmentally functional response. The center’s warm interiors are visibly connected, helping unite the spaces and users.” — Mark Williams

“There were several submissions that attempted a similar design expression, but none executed with the power and elegance of the Aaniin project. The marriage of wood and expressive steel structure is very effective.” — Jon Niemuth