Let the Games Begin

Canada Games Centre
Whitehorse, Yukon

S U B M I T T E D    B Y:

Barr Ryder Architects & Planners in Edmonton, Alberta

Size: 181,540 square feet

Project cost: $29.5 million

Quick tour:

  • 42,486-square-foot field house
  • 58,848-square-foot Olympic-size ice arena
  • 5,166-square-foot leisure ice
  • 1,990-square-foot child's play area
  • 3,680-square-foot administration/meeting space
  • 4,596-square-foot fitness/wellness area
  • 1,765-square-foot multipurpose/meeting rooms
  • 5,177-square-foot lounge
  • 8,116-square-foot arena viewing area
  • 3,980-square-foot soccer viewing area

When designing the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon, two very different masters had to be pleased.

First, the facility had to meet the needs of Canada's top athletes, potential Olympians who will use the center as a springboard for their international careers. At the same time, it had to be a family-friendly place that the average Whitehorse resident wouldn't be imitated to use.

Architect Stephen Barr of Barr Ryder Architects & Planners in Edmonton, Alberta, labored to strike the perfect balance, designing a facility that will be host to the 2007 Jeux du Canada Games and already has become a community gathering place.

The facility's competitive programs include badminton, artistic gymnastics, ice hockey, short-track speedskating and figure skating, as well as indoor soccer, basketball, volleyball and other court sports on the field house surfaces. They will serve as competition venues next year during the Canada Games, which are used as a national competitive development program for future Olympians. The event's role has taken on a heightened importance, given Canada will host the 2010 Games in Vancouver and has made a good showing during the Olympics a priority. The community, however, wanted more than just a world-class competitive venue. They sought areas for spontaneous use for both children, adults and senior populations, including fitness areas, indoor child play centers and leisure ice.

"It has to be a very open, friendly atmosphere," Barr says. "It can't be like they're being punished by going to the gym."

Barr bolstered the inviting feel by taking advantage of nearby mountain views. The facility also spurs local pride by depicting Yukon heritage and history in both its decorative artwork and grand murals in the aquatic center.

"It's one of my favorite features," says Bernie Van Hooft, facility supervisor. "When I first got up here and saw the aquatic center, it was the thing that struck me most."

Visibility throughout the facility is one of the critical elements that ensures not only a bright, open and welcoming environment for the community but also allows participants in one sport to be aware of the existence of other users in the facility. This develops the multiplex as a true "social meeting place" for the community.

"You want to instill a sense of community wellness," Barr says. "I'm trying to bring in the people who are terrified of exercising."

It appears that aim is being met. The facility—which is eligible for an impressive LEED silver certification for its eco-friendly design—has won the community's seal of approval, as well.


W H A T   T H E   J U D G E S   S A I D

The program opportunities for this building seem endless, great for community, team, tournament, etc. uses—'one-stop shop.' Nice integration of a very large shell—silver and red siding with wood and concrete are very nicely balanced.

Chris Kastelic

Interesting mix of competitive, recreational and community activity spaces. Captures spectacular views to the mountains. Good incorporation of sustainable design strategies.

Colleen McKenna

A S S O C I A T E D    F I R M S

Associate architect:

Kobayashi + Zedda Architects

Civil consultant:

Quest Engineering

Structural consultants:

Stantec Consulting Ltd. and N.A. Jacobsen Engineering

Mechanical consultants:

Stantec Consulting Ltd. and Northern Climate Engineering Ltd.

Electrical consultants:

Stantec Consulting Ltd. and Dorward Engineering

Geotechnical consultant:

J.R. Payne & Associates Ltd.

General contractor:

Ketza-Monad, A Joint Venture

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