Nestled in the rolling foothills of northwest Calgary, Canada, the Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge (Shane Homes YMCA) is one of the largest YMCA’s in the world and provides the region with essential wellness amenities. This facility serves as the regional hub for community gathering, cultural programs, recreational facilities, and child care services. The extensive glazing and unifying curved timber roof that links each space creates an inclusive and vibrant atmosphere, engaging passersby and heightening curiosity.
The Shane Homes YMCA takes inspiration from the rolling hills and layered horizons. Its park-like site allows natural recreation uses; pathways curve through the site connecting users to the reconstructed wetlands, outdoor athletic programs, natural park space, the main facility and surrounding landscape. The Shane Homes YMCA is the City of Calgary’s flagship example of their strategy to build vibrant, healthy communities.
Guided by the goal to create an inclusive and connected interior environment, GEC developed a functional program that maximizes connections between program elements. While traditional wellness facilities typically separate each program element, the Shane Homes YMCA celebrates the integration of activities: from the public concourse users can see the pools, gymnasium, fitness centre, and hockey arena. The Shane Homes YMCA differs from typical recreation centres in that once you are through the central control point you have access to all program elements. A floating running track encircles the public concourse from overhead, adding dynamic energy to each space. Extensive glazing allows natural light to illuminate the facility and visually connects users with the outdoors.
Timber is used prominently throughout the facility for its structural, aesthetic, and sustainable qualities. The Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge is the largest timber roof in North America with over 2,750m3 of glu-laminated beams spanning the entire facility. This material allowed the geometric complexity of the facility to be realized economically.
Inclusivity & Accessibility
Universal inclusiveness and accessibility were pillars of the design, supporting all abilities and demographics for a safe, welcoming environment. Responding to Canada’s evolving cultural and family needs, GEC designed the YMCA’s universal changeroom: among the first in Alberta and in Canada. The universal change room provides an open, barrier-free change area to support a diversity of abilities, orientations, and family arrangements. The design eliminates the pressure on people to choose which change room to enter. In addition, the changerooms include oversized private change stalls for families and people with attendants.
The Shane Homes YMCA is designed for LEED® Gold certification and employs several unique sustainable features. The facility is constructed with 2,750 m³ of glulam timber, significantly reducing its carbon impact, and equating to taking 725 cars off the road for or eliminating one year of CO2 emissions from 362 houses for one year. The Shane Homes YMCA includes a combined heat and power co-generation system, significantly reducing waste energy and greenhouse gas emissions by re-capturing waste heat for use in pools and domestic hot water and re-using gray water from the whirlpools to flush urinals and toilets.