Toronto, ON, CA


Emerald Hills Leisure Centre


Attached to Archbishop Jordan High School, the Emerald Hills Leisure Centre is Sherwood Park’s long awaited aquatic centre.

Emerald Hills Leisure Centre is 55,000 s.f. new build customized Aquatic facility that caters specifically to leisure, therapeutic, and learn-to-swim programming. The facility is co-joined to an existing Catholic High School with an operating partnership to create a shared Community Centre as well as aquatic programming for students. The program includes a 6-lane 24 metre lap pool, adjustable floor therapy pool, tot pool, whirl pool, and steam room. The facility features a fully transparent all-gender universal changeroom accessible and inclusive for all. An upper level ‘shell space’ is provided above the change rooms as a future fitness centre. The building takes advantage of views and prominence to the adjacent storm water pond and creates a unique and highly landscaped internal courtyard for viewing from both facilities.


The Architects prepared a multi-facility study to review the Countrywide delivery of aquatic and recreation services to determine the feasibility of additions to existing facilities, and to compare construction and operation costs. The project is a model for partnerships between schools and wellness facilities to promote indoor and outdoor recreation and health. The County maximizes utilization of both the pool and the school with joint use agreements and sees potential to connect for rehabilitation and therapy, given the proximity to a new hospital complex. The high performing acoustic environment allows for multiple sessions in adjacent basins with fully audible instructors.

The Emerald Hills Leisure Centre is designed to deliver county-wide ‘Learn to Swim’ and ‘Wellness’ programs to Strathcona County’s growing population, in partnership with an adjoining High School. A simple and economical plan was achieved while creating a ‘Landmark’ civic building within a suburban retail context. The aquatic hall and lobby are conceived of as a singular sculpted volume that defines the new social hub of the community. Existing gymnasia, auditoria and classrooms are shared with the Aquatic centre to create a vibrant evening community centre for the greater community.

The Building

Formally the building is a simple and affordable ‘big box’ volume designed to have a sense of lightness and dynamic movement. The building’s trapezoidal plan is created by maximizing the buildable footprint to the site setbacks. The mono-slope roof drains diagonally to provide maximum natatorium volume, and clerestory daylighting with a low height to the rear courtyard. White triangulated standing seam panels float above a black precast base and incorporate four triangulated glazing locations. Interior acoustic surfaces and ceiling are triangulated above a black hexagonally tiled base to create a serene, unified and high quality sonic environment.

Accessibility and inclusivity goals were of high priority, all pools have ramps and the teaching pool has a movable floor. Highly transparent universal change rooms and advanced accessible change rooms will set the bar into the County’s future. The amount of glazing is specifically located low at deck level for views to landscaped areas to the west, and located high on the front elevation to bounce light off the ceiling structure, resulting in maximum low-glare lighting distribution.

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Status: Built
Location: Strathcona County, AB
Additional Credits: MJMA + MTa