Laurier Brantford YMCA Brantford, Ontario

Architect : CannonDesign

Project Category : Public Recreation and College

Total Construction Cost : 67,000,000

Total Gross Square Feet : 122,000

Approximate Cost Per Square Foot : 549

How was the facility funded? : Public, Private, University Funds

Project Description:

Architectural first impressions hinge largely on a building’s exterior presence, and the Laurier Brantford YMCA wowed panelists with its massing — described as “incredible,” “clever,” “elegant” and “engaging.”

The bulk of the building takes the form of a rectangular box, raised off street level and faced entirely with glass, providing an unmistakably modern addition to its dynamic urban surroundings. Its highly reflective facade helps achieve the project goals of reigniting pedestrian traffic to the area and reanimating business among smaller neighborhood storefronts. Likewise, uncomplicated interior forms and a simple color palette welcome Brantford community members and Wilfred Laurier University students to experience the gyms, pools and meeting spaces offered by the world’s first YMCA co-owned by an academic institution.

“The massing couldn’t be simpler for this bar-shaped building, but its sheer dedication to exterior unambiguousness is what makes it a standout,” noted one judge. “This brave design is memorable.”

“Innovative design and creative funding solutions combine seemingly disparate uses of public health services and collegiate athletics in this facility with a commendable goal to rejuvenate the existing urban core. I appreciate the team’s fenestration design studies, clever massing on a steep site and powerful yet simple and elegant exterior design.” — Katie Barnes

“The cantilevered mass creates an engaging and iconic form within the community.” — William Schenck