University of British Columbia Aquatic Centre

Vancouver, BC
Construction Cost: $33 Million (Canadian)
Area / Square Feet: 86,000
Occupancy Date: December 2016

At the center of a larger campus transformation planned over the next eight years, the new aquatic center defines the northern arrival facade of a new transit plaza receiving 50 percent of the student population on a daily basis. The aquatic center is the first and last building students see commuting to campus. It opens diagonally to the outdoor social heart of the student precinct, McInnes Field, and frames a north-south pedestrian route through campus.

The siting of the Aquatic Centre responds to the expanse of the transit plaza, the volume of student traffic and key pedestrian circulation and vehicular arrival on site. The south facade frames the space of the new Transit Plaza, providing shelter, views and terraced southern seating for commuters. The west facade, canopy and glazed corridor parallels a lush garden promenade of mature trees along Athletes Way, and the north facade creates a public viewing passageway and optional programmable exterior activity space.

Designed to LEED Gold standards, the aquatic center focuses on daylighting, water reuse and indoor air quality strategies. The building filters the top-up daily evaporative pool-basin loss β€” up to two inches per day β€” and stores and reuses treated and conditioned water to provide greywater flushing and site landscaping. Chloramine-carrying air found just above the water’s surface is removed by delivering air from a central bench structure, scouring the water surface and returning air within the upper portion of the perimeter pool gutters. Sensors and zoned lighting controls respond to natural lighting conditions.

Judge's Comments

"It's a beautiful example of a simple plan that allows designers to maximize the impact of interior spaces." β€” Clint Menefee

"The use of white throughout allows the water and swimmers to be the color and energy in the space." β€” Lynn Reda

"Extraordinarily careful integration of mechanical and electrical systems, and the minimalist, white interior palette allows the blue hue of the pools to be the primary color and the main performer of the natatorium. The restraint of this project creates a white sculptural canvas where the art of swimming is celebrated." β€” David Sorg