Guelph Civic Centre Market Square Pavilion

RDH Architects

Award of Merit
LOCATION Guelph, Ontario

The Guelph Civic Square Pavilion is a small structure designed to accommodate changing and rest areas for a skating rink in the winter season and a splash pad in the summer months. Further to this, the pavilion houses a Zamboni machine, mechanical spaces, a water collection cistern and chillers for the ice rink/splash pad, an accessible washroom/change room, public lockers and donor wall recognition.

The project is a single building component situated within the larger context of a civic square landscape design. The architects were brought into the project by a prominent landscape architect to develop the civic square pavilion. The role of architect as subconsultant has given an interesting focus to the design process. This focus has been one of experimentation within the boundaries of a small-scale architectural object, concentrating on technical innovation and formal exploration.

The pavilion is situated on a civic square located at 1 Carden Street in the heart of historic downtown Guelph, Ontario. The square sits in front of the newly redesigned City Hall building. The pavilion is located on the north side of the City Hall building and to the east of a centrally located reflecting pool/splash pad and ice rink.

The pavilion location accommodates Zamboni access to the water feature to the west and a civic centre service street to the east. The north edge of the square is framed by an intact section of historic buildings which offer significant commercial amenity for future use of visitors to the square, such as skate rentals, skate sharpening, cafés and restaurants.

The pavilion uses perspective to its advantage to facilitate a dynamic eastern edge counterpoint to the mass of the City Hall building. The luminosity of the new glazed pavilion will help to further accentuate its position on the site and in the city. Beyond the many associated technical functions, the essence of this pavilion is one of rest and change for users of the amenities offered in the plaza. The pavilion is both a place of refuge from the elements and an urban marker for the newly designed civic square.

The driving force behind this design process has been to use the pavilion as a testing ground for formal and material constructional systems which had not previously been utilized by the office. The explorative process included compound curvature, radiused structural glass products, custom ceramic frit patterning, LED lighting possibilities, and custom hardware components. Some of these elements have been touched on in other projects but in a much less extensive manner and without the same level of explorative rigour. New three-dimensional modelling programs have been utilized and ongoing research with fabricators has led to a much greater understanding of how one can study complex forms and how these forms and materials can be constructed during the building process.

The conceptual approach of using a small-scale architectural object as a vehicle to study these techniques has been fruitful to this particular project and with proper communication will be put to use and further developed in future projects. Further to this, the project illustrates that an experimental design process can work in step with the development of a civic building project.

  • CLIENT City of Guelph
  • ARCHITECT TEAM Tyler Sharp, Bob Goyeche, Scott Waugh, Carlos Tavares
  • STRUCTURAL Halsall Associates Ltd.
  • MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL MMM Group
  • LANDSCAPE Janet Rosenberg and Studio
  • INTERIORS RDH Architects
  • CONTRACTOR Goetz Construction
  • AREA 2,800 ft²
  • BUDGET $1.3 M
  • COMPLETION Spring 2014

Jury Comments

KM: This is a simple, elegant solution to a simple program. I appreciate how the pavilion contrasts and complements the stone heritage façades. The luminosity of the glass façade is quite beautiful the way it’s been rendered. Imagine a light dusting of snowfall at twilight—it would be lovely.
MM: I like the distinctive illusory stance of the pavilion relative to the solidity of the nearby heritage building, which is more massive and opaque. The pavilion has a real transparency as it plays with the ambition to draw glass into a dialogue with water and ice while it transitions from summer to winter.
MS: It’s designed with an appreciation of its adjacency to the ice rink, using the reflectivity of either the water or ice to enhance its presence. It becomes more impactful through illumination and reflectivity in its context.