INVIZIJ Architects and Toms+McNally teamed up to create a unique skating pad, The Waterdown Rotary Memorial Skate Path, at Waterdown Memorial Park.
The idea behind the project started when Graham McNally’s (of Toms+McNally) grandfather, a long time member of the Rotary Club of Waterdown, wanted to build a skating rink for the youth of his beloved town. After consulting with the city, it was clear they wanted a path and not a rink. By weaving a path through the park it became more inclusive while also reducing the liability of hockey.
At the time Graham was still at INVIZIJ architects. However, as the project progressed and time went on, he left INVIZIJ to start his own firm with Principal Architect Philip Toms. From that point forward INVIZIJ would design the path and Toms+McNally would design the corresponding building.
The project wasn’t always smooth sailing. The city’s planning department informed the architects of a road-widening plan on Hamilton Road, which meant they would have to move the original location proposed. Councillor Judi Partridge and the recreation departments met with park stakeholders to reprogram the ball diamonds and soccer fields to ultimately find a new site for the path.
Cost estimates kept coming in over budget with the path itself costing around $1.3 million. Instead of building a new amenity building Toms+McNally proposed to keep and build around the existing washroom facility (designed by Richard Lintack). This solution not only saved money, but also had the added benefits of working with existing sewer and water connections.
Half of the old cinderblock building was demolished and the remainder was wrapped inside a new enclosure clad in brick and glass. The new building includes a community area, offices, a backroom for the zamboni and refrigeration, and a corridor for access to the pre-existing washrooms.
The communal area for lacing up skates and keeping warm was wrapped in glazing, creating a more welcoming, transparent space, with better views for parents to watch their children.
It’s an economical building with little frills. Except for one: the canopy at the south west corner. Raised above the roof on steel columns, the asymmetrical canopy levitates above the entrance. It’s a statement big enough to turn a simple building into a noticeable piece of public infrastructure, while also acting as a counterpoint to the taller refrigeration plant at the north of the building.
The Rotary Club of Waterdown and the City of Hamilton funded the project, which opened this summer to the applause of many in the community, and the city deserves major credit for being with the architects every step of the way. It’s this collaboration and teamwork that ultimately lead to the skate paths successful implementation.
Get your skates sharpened for the winter (or bring your rollerblades for the summer!) and don’t forget the hot chocolate.