2011 SAB Award winner - Creekside Community Centre

Located on the southeast shore of False Creek in Vancouver, this new community centre was part of the Athlete’s Village development for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It served as a media centre during the Games before being converted to its legacy use. The program is a mix of community based and commercial elements, all designed to serve the new neighbourhood now being developed on the former industrial waterfront lands.

Jury Comments: This public building, part of the redevelopment of former industrial land at False Creek, is an exemplary effort to preserve waterfront for public access and use.  A focal point for the community, the building’s scale is respectful of access to views from adjacent buildings and offers public amenities to a large neighbourhood. A LEED Platinum building, it will serve as a demonstration of sustainable design to the public.The core components of the 4,000m2 community centre include: a gymnasium, activity and meeting rooms, a fitness room, as well as associated services and administrative spaces. Added to this are the activities of a 400m2 boating centre to serve the local paddling and rowing community, a 720m2 neighbourhood child-care facility, and a 540m2 restaurant/dining terrace. Parking is located below grade.

The site is approximately 105m long and 34m deep, with the long facades presented to two very different environments. The building has been designed to mediate between these conditions, presenting its southern orthogonal facade to the urban street and its northern curved facade to address the waterfront, and adjacent public plaza. A central internal street connects these two facades.

Externally, one important design goal was to have 50% of the site area vegetated. This has been achieved using both extensive and intensive green roofs, green walls and planting at grade. The vegetation not only provides opportunities for wildlife habitat but also mitigates the heat island effect and slows storm water discharge.

A related strategy was to collect storm water in cisterns located in the basement mechanical room, and use it for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing. By using collected water and drought-tolerant plants the need for potable water for landscape irrigation has been eliminated. Waste water from potable sources will only be required on the rare occasions when the supply of captured water is insufficient.

The exterior cladding of the building is a simple palette of glass, concrete and zinc. Concrete and zinc were selected for their durability and ability to withstand frequent public use and abuse. Concrete is not only a readily available material locally but contains a high percentage of Cementitious Materials [CSMS] to reduce the use of Portland cement in the mixture.
Interior finalities include rapidly-renewable materials such as bamboo plywood; FSC-certified wood and low-emitting materials for adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, carpets, composite wood and laminate adhesives were specified. The size and positioning of windows is designed to bring natural light into the majority of the occupied spaces of the building. Openings are limited on the south side to reduce potential solar heat gain.

All ventilation air is provided by a mixed-mode system, combining natural and mechanical 100% outdoor air displacement ventilation. The mechanical ventilation consists of HRV units providing effective heat recovery from the exhausted air. When outdoor conditions permit, windows and doors are opened to allow natural pressure differences and internal buoyancy forces to ventilate the building. Ventilation air is drawn from the cooler, north side of the building and flows both in and out of windows while the lobby acts as a central exhaust plenum.

The building is heated primarily through a low-intensity radiant slab and ceiling system. This receives low temperature heating water at approximately 40oC from a combination of vacuum-tube solar thermal collectors and a district heating system [Neighbourhood Energy Utility - NEU - See False Creek Energy Centre, page 20] external to the building. This is supplemented as required through a water-source variable refrigerant flow [VRF] system on a space-by -space requirement.

Cooling is provided primarily by passive cooling strategies - a combination of high-performance envelope design with effective solar shading and heavy mass structure, and free cooling by mixed-mode ventilation; natural ventilation by operable windows and with HRV units operating in free–cooling mode. The innovative mechanical systems used in this project will be the subject of a Tech Note article in the next issue of SABMag.

In addition to its leading edge environmental design strategies, the Creekside Community Centre responds positively to the multiple aspects of its physical context and, perhaps most importantly, reaffirms public ownership of Vancouver’s urban waterfront.


  • Architect Nick Milkovich Architects Inc. / Walter Francl Architecture, Vancouver
  • Design Consultant Arthur Erickson, Vancouver
  • Owner Develope r  Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, Vancouver
  • General Contractor MetroCan Construction Ltd, Surrey, BC
  • Landscape Architect Durante Kreuk Ltd, Vancouver
  • Civil Engineer Vector Engineering Services Ltd, Burnaby, BC
  • Electrical Engineer Acumen Engineering Ltd, Burnaby, BC
  • Mechanical Engineer Cobalt Engineering, Vancouver
  • Structural Engineer Glotman Simpson Consulting Engineers, Vancouver
  • Photos Bob Matheson, Vancouver


  • - Energy intensity: 307 MJ/m2/year [Includes both base building and process energy]
  • - Local materials by value: 27%
  • - Recycled materials content by value: 25%
  • - Water consumption from municipal source: 1,284 litres/occupant/year [Includes both base building and process energy]

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