Gore Meadows Community Centre & Library: Built with a New Name, Same Edge

Brampton, Ontario, numbers amongst the largest and fastest growing cities in Canada. It is also one of the country’s most diverse communities, with more than 175 ethnic backgrounds speaking over 70 different languages. In 2009 Brampton saw a need to create a space for the community to come together and share in the recreational, athletic and cultural activities that encourage a healthy, vibrant and active lifestyle. Three years and $36 million in funding later, residents were introduced to the finalized design of what was first known as the Brampton East Library and Community Centre’s [Gore Meadows Community Centre & Library].

The library and community centre represents only the first phase of a two-part development. The initial phase will add a 35,000-square foot library and a 35,000-square foot community centre to the area. After acquiring a 120-acre parcel of farmland in 2009, Brampton moved swiftly to combine the new land with an adjacent city-owned lot to create a total of 143 acres of space.

Before construction could begin, an extensive archaeological survey was conducted to ensure the new structure would not disturb any potential artifacts. Archeological surveyors had an inkling of something significant being found on-site, as a brick farmhouse dating back to the 1800s still stood on the farmland as of 2009. Further investigations turned up the foundation of a second wood-framed house, a root cellar, two coins and some dish fragments. The real discoveries came in the form of two aboriginal arrowheads, dating back to 3000 to 2500 B.C. and 2500 to 1850 B.C., respectively.

Meanwhile, the city looked to find a general contractor that could not only deliver a quality project, but one that understood the building’s importance to the community. Ultimately, the search led to locally based and family-owned and -operated Aquicon Construction Co. Ltd. (Aquicon). Aquicon’s experience building for both private- and public-sector institutions dates back to its founding in 1986, when Frank and Mario Aquino left a similarly oriented firm to build a company of their own.

Building with Great Experience

Fast-forward one quarter-century and Aquicon remains one of the Greater Toronto area’s most trusted names in the ICI market. Aquicon specializes in bringing projects with strong ties to the community, and shepherding those with more than a few logistical snags to fruition. The Aquicon team leverages clear communication and proactive project management to deliver an end result that remains true to the architect’s design, as well as the client’s original budget.

Brampton selected Toronto’s ZAS Architects + Interiors (ZAS) to provide a design to serve as an anchor for the community and act as a model for sustainable development. To the community’s pleasure, ZAS delivered a design that also targets LEED Silver certification, managing to pack in many sustainable building features while maintaining the high-level functionality of the athletic and recreational amenities.

“We like to refer to the east façade of the building as the Wave Wall, and I’m not sure if anything like it has ever been done before,” admits Mike Bieber, project manager for Aquicon. “Because it is a highly unique design, Aquicon made certain that all stakeholders were engaged to ensure the final product reflected the requisite quality and architect’s design intent.”

To ensure the successful construction of not only the Wave Wall, but also the rest of the building, Aquicon regularly consulted with several partners. Aquicon’s partners for the project include structural engineer Halcrow Yolles, LEED consultant Zon Engineering Inc., mechanical consultant The Mitchell Partnership and electrical consultant Mulvey & Banani International Inc. Aquicon also invited the project’s subcontractors to weigh in, ensuring the centre’s custom-designed glass curtain wall maintained its design aesthetic while ensuring a weather-tight thermal and air-vapour barrier.

“The most important contributor was Gage Aluminum [Gage], as they were the supplier of the actual Wave Wall components,” explains Bieber. “We felt very confident working with Gage, as we had worked with them on other complex project previously, with great results. In addition to Gage’s expertise, independent third-party reviews were regularly carried out by Coffey Engineering to ensure the Wave Wall maintained its high-performance thermal and air-vapour barrier functionality, as well as reassuring the client that they are receiving the high-end product they had envisioned.”

While it might appear to be a classic case of inviting too many cooks into the kitchen, Aquicon’s insistence on soliciting the opinion of all stakeholders appears to have paid off. Brampton residents will benefit from access to a new library, fitness centre, large demonstration kitchen, foodservice facilities, washrooms, a multimedia room, meeting rooms, reading garden, outdoor basketball courts, locker rooms and an accessible playground in 2013 because of the collaborative work of these companies.

The Future

ZAS has been contracted to design the second phase of the centre’s development, which adds a whopping 300,000-square foot space to host an aquatics centre, a field house for cricket, a FIFA-regulation soccer pitch, a reflecting pool and a spray pad. The second phase of development will also involve the restoration of the original brick building that dates back to the 1900s.

“The tender for the second phase has not been issued yet, but we have had such a great experience on the first phase that we would love contribute to the next phase,” admits Bieber.

Brampton had hoped to have the building up and running by winter 2012, but ultimately pushed back the opening date to March 2013, giving the construction team more time to ensure the unique building and its curvy façade function as promised.

The city also renamed the facility the Gore Meadows Community Centre & Library in honor of the fields it replaces. However, under either name, the facility is sure to become an anchor for recreational, educational and athletic programming in the community of Brampton, Ontario, for years to come.