Recreation brings individuals together and builds communities around common interests. Rarely is that more evident among chosen Facilities of Merit® than it is with the 2018 class of 10 winning projects — which includes campus and community recreation centers, an aquatics center, a sports complex, an intramural building and two YMCAs. Even facilities housing intercollegiate athletics also make ample room for wellness enthusiasts.

Facilities of Merit winners were selected in July by a panel of seven architects at the conclusion of two days of deliberations at AB Media headquarters in Madison, Wis. Next month, the architects, consultants and facility owners behind each winning project will be honored at a reception at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

Thanks to all 62 entrants for helping ensure the program’s high level of competition, and congratulations to the 2018 Facilities of Merit. — The Editors

Emerald Hills Leisure Centre


“The desire for a ‘landmark civic building’ was perfectly executed by use of dynamic yet comfortable forms that blend seamlessly from outside to inside.” — Adam Bastjan

The Emerald Hills Leisure Centre caters specifically to leisure, therapeutic and learn-to-swim programming. The facility is co-joined to an existing Catholic high school, with an operating partnership to create a shared community center as well as offer aquatics programming for students. The aquatics hall and lobby are conceived of as a singular sculpted volume that defines the new social hub of the community.

“The key to success for this project is the careful thought by the architect in exploring daylight on interior spaces. Daylight and placement of exterior fenestration is calculated and intentional calibrated with purpose to enhance each interior space.” — Doug Barraza

The aquatics center includes a six-lane, 25-meter lap pool, an adjustable-floor therapy pool, a tot pool, a whirlpool and a steam room. The facility features a fully transparent, gender-neutral universal change room accessible and inclusive to all. Formally, the building is a simple and affordable “big box” volume designed to have a sense of lightness and dynamic movement. The building’s trapezoidal plan is created by maximizing the buildable footprint to the site setbacks. The monoslope roof drains diagonally to provide maximum natatorium volume, with a low height to the rear courtyard.

Responding to the Northern Alberta climate, the building’s triple-glazed openings are minimized to four strategic locations and shaped to maximize their effect. The amount of glazing is specifically located low at deck level for views to landscaped areas to the west, and located high on the front elevation to bounce light off the ceiling structure — resulting in maximum low-glare lighting distribution. Interior acoustic surfaces and ceiling are triangulated above a black hexagonally tiled base to create a serene, unified and high-quality sonic environment.

“Beautifully executed and dynamic interior spaces. The daylighting is particular nice.” — Colleen McKenna

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