Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre Jayman BUILT Aquatic Centre and Curling Club Expansion Cochrane, Alberta

Project Category : Public Recreation

Total Construction Cost : $ 48,000,000

Total Gross Square Feet : 320,279

Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : $ 149.87

How was the facility funded? : Government funds

Project Description:

Designing a space for everyone - a worthy objective that also proved to be the most challenging aspect of this project. As an expansion to the existing multi-use recreation center and community hub, the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre Jayman BUILT Aquatic Centre Expansion targets inclusivity: young families, singles, seniors, athletes, and recreational users. The expansion provides a new and inviting main entryway, lobby, socializing areas, food service spaces and views into the new aquatic centre and curling sheets. Stantec teamed up with Vic Davies Architecture Ltd. (Aquatic Specialists) to provide a feasibility study for the curling club, and schematic designs for the aquatic centre and curling club. The schematic designs went to Town Council for approval and fundraising. Following the fundraising of the project, Stantec and Vic Davies Architecture Ltd. was retained once more to provide design development and construction administration services.

Functional Planning

Achieving Versatility with Strategic Adjacencies:

Flexibility is important to communities like Cochrane. While populations are growing, funding for specialized centres can be tight, making efficiencies and flexibility crucial to accommodate and attract more user groups.

Stantec designed the curling area to be convertible to a full-sized NHL Hockey rink, supporting the community’s ability to host regular curling events and to attract and promote hockey, indoor soccer, and other specialized events like tradeshows. The second-floor circulation space was increased to include for seating and a viewing deck looking down to the curling ice as well as viewing windows that were cut into the adjoining existing building to provide viewing into the existing ice arena.

The functional planning of the aquatic area was largely based on the need for competitive swimming and aquatic therapy. With a limited footprint, and in an intentional effort to maximize the access to the therapy pool and viewing deck to the competitive swimming lane pool, the design took unique measures to provide other high demand aquatic facility components in the small footprint. Two water slides were added and accessed from a steel platform stair which occupies otherwise unusable vertical space. The slides do not empty into the pool, rather they have their own space built in for occupants to slide out and egress from the slide back onto the pool deck. The shape and position of the wave pool provides additional pool deck area over the wave turbines which provides additional access to the therapy pools and lane pools.

At the heart of this design concept, the new control desk and main entry to the addition and existing facility was a starting point for all further adjacencies, layout and circulation. Our team positioned the main facility control desk, staff administration areas and lifeguard areas together; taking advantage of synergies, shared space, and shared surveillance. Grouped together at the centre of the main lobby, with views down the major circulation corridors and views onto the pool deck, staff and users can easily interact. Sightline studies revealed the extent of surveillance for both the public zones, including the control point for the curling/NHL arena, and the pool zones. By reducing the number of staff that are needed to safely operate the facility, the operational costs are lowered and users clearly understand the main point of contact when using this new multi-use facility.

With activity, equipment and change-rooms are needed. Like the ice area, Stantec designed versatility here as well. The two large (one for males and one for females) change-rooms for curling programming are convertible into four change rooms for hockey programming. When hosting a hockey tournament, the Centre needs to have a room for each team, as well as for each team playing the following game.

A third locker room provides a universal/group change room space designed with barrier free requirements, assisted lifts, and private rooms for family and assisted changing and showering. The pool deck is designed for lift stations to assist less mobile users into the water. A specialized therapy tank is designed with ramps, resistance jets and physiotherapy programming components. This therapy tank will be used by hockey and curling athletes and users with joint and muscle injuries, as well as those that just want a soothing massage, but at a more comfortable temperature than a whirlpool or hot tub.

Interior Design

A Space for Everyone:

The new expansion provides barrier free access to all aspects of the new facility by means of lifts and ramps, we also provided change beds and private rooms for care giver support. The new aquatic centre program includes a 25m eight-lane lap pool with spectator seating, leisure pool with wave generation and warm-up lap lanes, lazy river, tots pool, two water slides, an outdoor splash park, 30-person swirl pool, and a warm water therapy pool. The aquatic design consists of extensive full height glazing to make use of the full east and south exposure. Blinds were used to allow the user to control the amount of sun light which is especially essential during swimming competitions. Durable materials were used throughout both the arena and the aquatic area to increase the longevity of the building and to reduce the operations costs. Exposed concrete columns, polished concrete floors, and exposed steel structure all combine with large open spaces and pops of bright point colors to create a welcoming, playful space that will stand the test of time.

To provide privacy and acoustic separation for users of the warm water therapy pool from other active spaces, the design team established zones within the natatorium:

  1. Competition zone for swim teams, competitions, and lessons;
  2. Family fun zone for all to enjoy sprays, moving water and jet features;
  3. Adult zone for relaxation, socializing, and warm water therapy treatment.

The most innovative feature of all zones is the 200 m2 warm water therapy pool; a free form tank with a ramp entry that slopes gently to six feet at the deepest point. Its temperature sits between a typical leisure tank and swirl pool temperature, ideal for loosening muscles and allowing patrons to relax for longer periods. It was designed in consultation with the centres physiotherapist tenant who provided insight on various items to include in the pool such as: wall anchors for ropes and grab bars to facilitate rehabilitation exercises; three locations for leg, back and neck massages via water jets and fountains; and resistance jets for walking and swimming in place. Large windows next to the warm water therapy pool provide a great view to the adjacent Bow River and the benefits of natural sunlight. A lower ceiling height contributes to the sense of privacy and acoustic separation from the remainder of the natatorium. A one of kind design, it is the most popular pool within the natatorium, and is used to treat injuries, improve mobility and circulation issues, relaxation, and private parties.

Exterior Design

Western Heritage Guidelines:

The Town of Cochrane is very proud of their western heritage. So much so that their Western Theme Guidelines document suggests materials and styles for all new buildings in keeping with the existing context of this unique Alberta town. This document is reviewed with Development Permit Applications to ensure that all new structures are in keeping with the aesthetics of the surrounding context.

Stantec met with the Town Planners early in the design process to review their approach on these standards and make adjustments to suit their vision. A new residential community was under construction across the Bow River from the site and has a clear view of the facility. Stantec’s design and western themed approach could not just address the main entry, it wraps around the facility, addressing each facade.

Heavy timber and wood trim are incorporated on the new facade, playing off the rhythm and materiality of the existing facility. The addition provides more glazing to allow an abundance of natural light into the spaces and connects the expansion with the existing through the continuation of a brick base and a metal panel cladding. The expansion is contextual to the existing site and the Town as a whole and a unique response to this site.


Relationship to the Surrounding Site:

The new curling club and aquatic centre, along with additional parking and outdoor space, were positioned to the east of the existing facility. The new main entry and heart of this expanded community recreation centre joins the existing with the new, welcoming users to a central point within the site and building. This grand main entry atrium extends to the south with access to additional parking during peak times and the Bow River pathway system, connecting indoor and outdoor activities. The building site is contained by the Bow River to the south and east of the site. The existing water table was an issue that had to be carefully navigated during deep foundations installation of the pools and water tanks.

Coming to Consensus with the User Groups and Community:

Public engagement was essential for this project as a significant amount of public funding was being invested in this expansion. Stantec led engagement sessions with eight different user groups, including the Town of Cochrane. These groups were consulted and engaged in collaborative design charrette sessions. The inclusion and input from these groups resulted in a sense of ownership and appreciation for the design and the process, ultimately reaching a collective agreement on budget, program, and layout. Each user group provided a letter of recommendation supporting the design and presented them to Town Council prior to a hearing to decide whether or not to proceed with the project. Stantec’s public engagement group held public engagement sessions, where community members could come and review the design concepts and talk with our key designers about aspects of the design. A public survey provided additional proof of community support, and in combination with the user group support, the design was approved by council to proceed to the next phase construction.

Bringing the Building Up to Code:

The Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre Jayman BUILT Aquatic Centre Expansion project was an addition to an existing facility. As the original building was constructed in 2001, the existing building did not meet current code standards. Stantec met with the Town of Cochrane to establish a reasonable level of upgrading through renovation of the existing facility. The new facility provides ample life safety solutions. The standards for pool design played a large role in the design and approvals process. Alberta Health Services and the Life Saving Society were engaged and approved the design. Strict standards for swimming competitions were met and the collaboration with Stantec and Vic Davies Architect Ltd., as Aquatic Consultant, resulted in a beautiful natatorium with the ability to host competitions with 300 bathers and 300 spectators.


Reigning in the Budget:

At the end of schematic design, the project cost estimate escalated to $55 million due to increased program area the curling club was expanded to accommodate an NHL size rink. However, council only approved $45 million for the project with no reduction in program. To justify the additional $10 million difference, Stantec adapted the design to accommodate a flexible surface area that converts to various rink sizes, including a curling rink, and dryland functions. Stantec was able to design an efficient facility and reduced the final construction cost to $48 million. Our team also achieved operational cost savings by enabling waste heat recovery from the refrigeration system, which uses the waste heat to warm the pool, to reduce environmental impact with lowering the utility bill of the facility.

Floor Plans