The design for the Rosemont Aquatic Centre in Montreal — by Poirier Fontaine Architectes in collaboration with local firms KANVA and Riopel + Associés Architectes — is all about connections. The most obvious of these are the literal passage-ways, slated for construction, that will link a historical building at the site (a community complex from 1951) to the new facility, an L-shaped edifice that flanks a corner of the block. The aquatic centre, now open and running, has two public pools — one for families and one for athletic events — and boasts exterior details, like bold horizontal lines and chevron-patterned windows, that reference the art deco–inspired look of its older peer.
The interiors of the new aquatic centre offer a similar sense of continuity and interconnectedness. The accents are minimalist — white tiles, polished concrete, and touches of black ceramic and gyp-sum — and the entire building, with its heat-exchange pumps and geothermal climate-control system, is in the process of being LEED certified. But the best features are the windows. “There are cross views throughout the building,” says Daniel Fontaine, a partner at Poirier Fontaine. The pools have second-storey observation decks, the community room and dance studio look out to both sides of the block, and while the individualized change rooms are private, the main locker area is visible from the swimming pavilions — a feature that enhances security.
Other connections are less literal, more thematic. “When coming up with our plan,” says Tudor Radulescu, co-founder of KANVA, “we asked ourselves, ‘How do the complex’s different program types come together and make one another better?’” For Radulescu, the design concept boils down to two keywords: discovery and performance. The library in the old building sits near the eastern edge of the property, occupying the same horizontal plane as the family pool in the new building — this region, for Radulescu, is the discovery zone. Similarly, there’s an auditorium in the south end of the old building, which will eventually be linked to the athletics pool in the new one — this is the performance zone.
While visitors won’t necessarily take in a show and a swim competition on the same day, people will walk through the buildings and perhaps notice the thematic resonances between the spaces. Perhaps they’ll even recognize the potential to make the most of their visit — for instance, by popping into the library after a swim or vice versa. At the very least, they’ll become aware of the range of amenities available to them. They may also notice the wheelchair-friendly hallways and all-gender change rooms — features that maximize access. “The facility is free for Montreal residents,” Fontaine adds. The most meaningful connection is the one between a building and the people it serves.
The building by Poirier Fontaine Architectes in collaboration with local firms KANVA and Riopel + Associés Architectes balances spaces for discovery and performance.