rocky ridgeBy Anna Guy

Calgary’s Northwest quadrant, nestled amidst the knobs and kettles (unique undulating landscape formed from glacial deposits and depressions) is the site for the new Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility. One of four new recreation facilities slated for the city in an ambitious plan to meet the needs of Calgary’s growing population and expanding parameters, the RRRF will serve the community as it develops.

Built “to meet our growing city’s need for recreation opportunities and support the important role recreation plays in building complete communities,” the city of Calgary is investing over $480 million in four new recreation facilities in the province.

Echoing the landscape

The RRRF is a marvel to the eye. Architects GEC went outside the box in their design, favouring curvature and arches, echoing the knob and kettles of the area. The award has already received recognition for its design, including a nomination for the Recreation Industry Awards of Excellence and was the recipient of the Mayor’s Urban Design Award (MUDA).

“Conceptually, the approach for Rocky Ridge Recreation Facility is to create a low, horizontal building form that is stitched into the landscape, expressing and complementing the natural contours of the site,” says GEC. “Integrating the facility into this park-like setting provides the community with natural recreation opportunities. Multiple pathways curve throughout the site linking to the regional pathway system and connecting the community to the reconstructed wetland, the recreation facility, and the hill.”

In another nod to its natural setting, the City is aiming for LEED Gold status, and ensuring the natural habitat and wildlife continue to thrive. The facility will also have the largest timber roof in North America upon the facility’s completion, estimated in late 2017.

“It was very important, and became pretty clear through early design, that the facility needed to respond to the natural setting and have minimal impact,” says Calgary Recreation director Kyle Ripley. “The facility was designed to fit and integrate into the surrounding landscape, and the curvature of the building echoes that.”

For all its splendour, it’s what inside the building that will be a massive contribution towards fostering community, health and wellness, and recreation for Calgarians.

“Our goal is to create more active Calgarians and more active more often, and create great communities,” says Ripley. The RRRF will house 284,000 square-feet of world-class recreation facilities, including an aquatics centre, two ice rinks, three full gyms, fitness studios, a track, meeting rooms for classes, banquets and studio work to name a few, and will be run under the providence of the Calgary YMCA. There will also be a unique, self-service library, the first of its kind in Calgary.

Ripley says the location of the RRRF is important because the area is growing—up to 40,000 new residents a year less than three years ago—and was previously underserved. “We recognize that there was a great portion of the population that wasn’t being served with recreational facilities,” says Ripley.

“The intention is to serve all Calgarians, and the facility location was ultimately determined by availability of land on the edge of the city but as the city grows out even further to the north it’ll be surrounded by residents there as well as expected, the RRRF will serve those residents as well”.