Revitalizing a City With Powerful Community Design

Brantford YMCA / Wilfrid Laurier University Recreation Complex, Brantford, ON, Canada

Seeking to create a community center that would revitalize its downtown, the City of Brantford teamed with Wilfrid Laurier University on the vision for a new community recreation complex. The design team engaged the two clients and the community in a highly collaborative process that ensured all ideas and possibilities were covered and needs best met.

Located at the confluence of a dynamic city edge, the center is conceived as an integrated design that offers the public a unified and cohesive experience asserting a new identify to the block and city as a whole. The design focuses on three themes – memory, movement and landscape – as it draws upon the rhythms and patterns of buildings that previously filled the location while creating new possibilities. The center is equipped with gyms, pools, meetings rooms and related spaces to support residents and community events.

The center, which houses the Laurier Brantford YMCA and the Wilfrid Laurier University Recreation Center, revitalizes the city’s downtown and creates and creates exciting opportunities for recreation programming.

The new features of the YMCA include an aquatics centre with two pools for lane swimming; childcare area; youth zone for recreational, social and leadership development programs; a double gym design for sports and competition with retractable stadium seating for 860 people; comprehensive cardio and weight training space; group fitness studios; student lounge; and health intake consultation rooms for specialized community-based healthcare programs.

The project received a prestigious Progress Architecture Award from Architect magazine in 2012 when it was in design. At that point, the jury said of the project: “It brings a historical neighborhood into the 21st century.”


It brings a historical neighborhood into the 21st century in a way. It sort of modernizes the city.

– Progress Architecture Award Jury