Killarney Community Pool

New facility re-energizes established community

The design provides the lightest possible structural system and optimizes north views of the park and mountains beyond
by Roger Hughes

Filled with an abundance of natural light, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Killarney Community Pool engages the surrounding public spaces, bringing a new intensity to an important civic facility.
Prior to its rejuvenation, the Killarney Community Complex - consisting of an arena, indoor pool and community centre - was an inward looking facility, closed off to the surrounding park and residential neighbourhood.
When Hughes Condon Marler Architects [HCMA] undertook the design of a replacement facility for the existing pool, the goal was to create an open, transparent and light-filled facility that would serve as a beacon to the community, and interact seamlessly with the other building components.
The original Killarney Community Centre was built in the early 1960s and was arranged along an east-west axis, with pool and community centre to the north [separated by a small exterior courtyard] and the ice arena to the south. This arrangement was reinforced with the addition of a new gymnasium and child care centre in 1999.
The new pool represents the second phase in the revitalization and redevelopment of this complex which, together with the adjacent community facility and secondary school, forms a key civic precinct in this fast growing multicultural neighbourhood. Replacing the existing 45 year-old pool building, the new facility provides a new 25m lap pool, hot pool, leisure pool, multi-purpose space and related administration and changing facilities. The design transforms the character of the complex, opening it up to the sweeping views of the park and Coast Mountains to the north.
The poor structural and mechanical condition of the existing pool facility precluded its rehabilitation, and it was demolished in order to rebuild on the same corner of the site. This allowed HCMA to incorporate a wide array of innovative sustainable design principles that focus on energy efficiency and user comfort.
Extensive glazing on the north side overlooking the park provides ample natural light and superb views without the excessive heat gain and glare associated with glazing on other exposures. Operable windows in the north facade are expressed by the use of coloured glass, and are tied directly into the city-wide DDC [direct digital control] system. Manually operated overhead doors on the east and west elevations allow for both natural ventilation and use of outdoor space.
The immediate landscape to the north adjacent to the playing field slopes up to the building’s edge forming a berm. The berm serves two purposes: an informal bleacher from which to observe the action of the playing fields, and as a plinth that houses the extensive mechanical systems of the pool.
High-efficiency boilers are utilized, as is a high-efficiency heat recovery unit. The Killarney Community pool’s mechanical systems are designed to share energy with the upcoming final phase of facility replacement-the ice rink-where excess heat from the ice plant will be used to heat water in the pool. In addition, exceptional water quality is ensured through the use of an ozone water treatment system, reducing the use of chlorine and improving air quality throughout the building.
The incorporation of these sustainable strategies creates an environment where transparency and openness can be extended to the change rooms, which are traditionally cellular and enclosed in pool facilities. This project pioneers an innovative universal change room design in which locker spaces are open to view and patrons change in private cubicles. The shared single-sex change rooms are still present, but reduced in size. By eliminating the need for full height partitions and enclosing walls, the universal change room creates the opportunity to light the space naturally and improves safety and security.
Through its transparency, the building animates the surrounding area, with indoor activities visible from outside. Patrons approaching from the south can catch glimpses of the pool area and even the park and mountain views, before entering the building.
With its vibrant spaces and civic presence, Killarney Community Pool illustrates how a recreational facility can address both the environmental and social aspects of sustainability.

Roger Hughes is founding principal of Hughes Condon Marler: Architects, and was the lead design architect for this project.



  • Owner: Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
  • Architect: Hughes Condon Marler Architects, Vancouver
  • Structural Engineer: C.Y. Loh Associates, Vancouver
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Stantec, North Vancouver
  • Construction: Smith Bros. & Wilson Ltd., Vancouver
  • Landscape: Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, Vancouver
  • Cost Consultant: BTY Group, Vancouver
  • Code Consultant: LMDG Building Code Consultants Ltd., Vancouver
  • Building Envelope: Morrison Hershfield Consulting Engineers and Managers, Vancouver
  • Photos: Martin Tessler [photo 3 and 4], Nic Lehoux, Vancouver


  • Structure: Pool volume includes a hybrid glulam [by Western Archrib] and steel roof structure with steel roof deck supported on steel V columns, hybrid trusses 24.4m long with top chords of 215 x 456 24f-EX Douglas fir glulam shop finished with two coats of Biowash, all steel shop primed and site painted; pre-cast concrete roof structure on the change rooms, lobby and administration areas supported on masonry walls with concrete foundations on concrete-filled steel piles; metal roofing and siding, Marmoleum Real flooring by Forbo Linoleum.
  • Mechanical: High efficiency boilers by Viessmann Manufacturing Company Inc., high efficiency heat recovery reverse-flow air handling unit by BKM.
  • Construction budget: $9.2 million.
  • Area: 2,900 sq.m
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