In the Hamilton neighbourhood of Stoney Creek, the Valley Park Community Centre had been connecting residents for over four decades. But since its opening in the 1980s, the town has grown and diversified significantly — and the values and priorities of the community have evolved in turn. Now, thanks to a retrofit and expansion by local firm mcCallumSather, the hub has been transformed to meet current needs, while also looking towards the future; the building’s sustainable features will allow it to serve this vibrant community for years to come.
While the original building has been upgraded to meet (and exceed) today’s standards, the most notable change is the addition of a 2,462-square-metre library. The new space takes the form of a simple square floor plan with the children’s area located at its core. Computer zones, general print and digital media collections, a dynamic maker space, a green screen and media recording room, a young adult area, study rooms and meeting facilities round out the diverse program.
Softened by a palette of blonde wood and white walls, the interior makes for a warm and comfortable space, with plenty of seating including cozy loungers that face outwards and adjustable task chairs at the workstations. Diffusers are carefully woven into the ceiling to control acoustics — a particularly important feature for a space designed to be quiet.
Many of the building’s sustainable elements lie beneath the surface; individually controlled variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems with energy recovery, a new domestic water heating system with a recirculating pump, continuous low-level enclosed wall-fin type hydronic heating and modulating-condensing boilers for hot water. Combined, these features have helped the firm achieve a 60 per cent reduction in energy usage compared with a traditional building and more than a 65 per cent reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Adjacent to the library, an enclosed courtyard is yet another public amenity — an inward-facing oasis replete with native trees and large natural boulders with benches incorporated throughout for quiet reading or reflection. Visible from inside the library via one-way reflective glazing, the tranquil green space serves as a counterpoint to the street-facing north façade.
The library addition is located to the east of a new shared entryway where the old building meets the new. In contrast to the previous vestibule, which the architects describe as “closed off and confusing,” the new iteration offers a much-needed reception area while improving wayfinding. To the west, a flexible community room that can be booked after hours connects to the existing recreation centre. The foyer can be divided into two distinct spaces that can be used by the rec centre and library simultaneously, acting as a natural extension of the community centre’s programming.
From the street, the newly upgraded envelope serves as a more welcoming public face, now supported by an exterior plaza and landscaped drop-off area. A large-scale public art piece by Vivian Rosas on the western elevation beckons visitors inside. Clad in local limestone and deep graphite architectural block, the façade is punctuated by windows with copper accents to create a pleasing architectonic rhythm.
New solar panels rise proudly above the roofline — an intentional design choice that symbolizes the Valley Park Community Centre’s commitment to sustainability. “One of the most exciting ways in which libraries are evolving is how community spaces can be used as an educational tool to demonstrate sustainable design leadership,” says Drew Hauser, Director of Design & Business Development with mcCallumSather. “Public spaces, especially those focused on learning, should set an example for increasing sustainable practices in our communities.”
The $12.2 million renovation by local firm mcCallumSather has transformed the 40-year-old community hub with ample green upgrades and a new library addition.