AB's panel of judges found a lot to love in this small public ice complex in Paris, Ont., beginning with its advantageous use of a constrained but sloping site to allow players and spectators to enter at different levels at either end of a two-story glazed gallery. Initially viewed as an obstacle to arena design, the site's constraints were eventually embraced as offering an opportunity to reduce the mass of the building and to celebrate the activity taking place there. Running the entire length of the arena's north façade, the resulting gallery creates an architectural billboard by using ample glazing and fritted glass graphics that together broadcast activity to the surrounding community.

Inside, a viewing gallery provides panoramic views into both rinks and gives access to public amenities such as meeting rooms, restrooms and a concessions area. During the day, these spaces are washed with natural light that permeates the rink areas, as well.

The judges took note of two details that add to the facility's simple yet thoughtful aesthetic. First, tessellated beams used above the rinks offer an articulated look while allowing ductwork and other mechanicals to be tucked away within the roof structure. Second, fritted graphics on the exterior, as well as translucent exterior panels specified to reduce the amount of artificial illumination required, read as "frost" to passersby, suggesting the activities taking place inside. "There was obvious care taken in the engineering," said one judge. "The complex still has that industrial, utilitarian quality about it, but it felt humane, too - a very thoughtful project."

Judges' Comments:The use of frosted glass really evoked a quality of ice and snow, which obviously speaks to the activities within. It felt really right.

- Jim Kalvelage, Opsis Architecture
The architects showed great restraint in neither over-designing nor under-delivering. I loved its outward voice, with the arctic-scape billboard façade and the way it looks when it's illuminated to people driving by.
- Robert McDonald, Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative
It took an otherwise utilitarian building and elevated it to real public-building stature, with generous entrances and great visibility of surfaces. Urbanistically, it took advantage of the sloping site to allow spectators and players enter at different levels.
- Viktors Jaunkalns, MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects
Architect of Record:Perkins+WillToronto, Ont.

Cost: $20 million (Canadian)Square Feet: 80,000Funded By: Government funds, private donationsMajor Facility Components: Two NHL-size ice sheets, 700 spectator seats, concessions area, a pro shop, locker rooms, meeting rooms

Photo by Lisa Logan Photography

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The 2012 Athletic Business® Facility of Merit™ awards were recently selected by a panel of sports and recreation facility architects during two days of judging in Chicago. The 10 winners are being announced in this space during these two weeks, and profiles of all 10 will appear in the December issue of Athletic Business. The awards will be presented to the facility owners and architects at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 30.