I promised myself that this summer I would be a tourist in my own city and explore beyond Calgary’s City Centre. Having heard great things about the new recreation centre in Rocky Ridge and seeing the amazing computer rendering I decide to check it out one day after golf.
It is literally at the edge of the City. And it didn't disappoint!
It is nestled into the base of a hill, looking like some strange spaceship has landed or a slithering alien creature is about to invade the city. Its curvaceous shape and rich bronze façade is in sharp contrast to the cheap big box stores facades and the hard edges of the houses, condos and other buildings in the surrounding communities.
New Kid On The Block
Move over National Music Centre and the new Central Library there is a new kid in town when it comes to iconic public building architecture. And it was designed by Calgary’s own GEC architects, not by some international firm.
FYI: GEC also designed the Saddledome one of Calgary other iconic buildings.
The 284,000 square foot building opened in January 2018 at a cost of $192 million. The City of Calgary paid for the building and the YMCA is the operator. Shane Homes paid $3.5 million for naming rights. It is designed to server the 150,000 people living in the new communities at the northwest edge of the city.
It is the largest Y in the world, at least for the rest of this year. The new 333,000 square foot SETON Y is scheduled to open in January 2019.
- 25-metre, 8 lane competition pool
- Spectator viewing area
- Leisure pool with a wave system and waterslide
- Hot tubs and steam room
- 1 multi-purpose ice rink
- 1 leisure ice surface
- 3 full gymnasiums with multi-purpose flooring
- Fitness centre with cardio and strength training equipment
- Fitness/aerobics studios
- 160-metre running/walking track
- Large and small rooms for use as studios, classrooms and meeting spaces
- 3,000 sq. ft. library with access to print and digital materials, hold pick up, public seating and study space
- Art making, studio and gallery space
- 250-seat theatre
- Food services
- Physiotherapy/medical clinic
- Outdoor basketball court
- Pathways and nature trails/interpretative
- Outdoor play structures
- Skateboard park (completion in summer 2018)
- Video: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-rocky-ridge-ymca-1.4517102
Calgary’s love their recreational activities. Shane Homes YMCA @ Rocky Ridge sold 9,700 memberships in its first two weeks. I was there at about 3 pm on a Wednesday in the middle of Stampede and the place was busy. I can only imagine how busy it will be in the winter, when there are fewer outdoor options.
This new YCWA is one of four new recreation centers built by the City of Calgary over the past few years, the others being Great Plans (designed by the Calgary’s MTA architecture and Toronto's MJMA), Remington YMCA @ Quarry Park (also designed by GEC) and the futuristic looking SETON YMCA (designed by Calgary’s Gibbs Gage architecture).
The total cost of all four recreation centres totalled $480 million. And, yes each came with a public art project, which could be the subject of a future blog.
While Calgarians living in the City Centre are getting a signature library and museum, the suburbs are getting signature recreation centres. All with iconic architecture, no cookie cutter boxes anymore.
At $675 per square foot, some say it is easy to create an iconic building, the challenge should be to create great architecture with a more modest building. This too could be the subject of a future blog. Stay tuned!