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Neil Campbell Rowing Centre

At its best, the built environment can amplify a landscape’s natural beauty. On the southern shores of Lake Ontario, tucked between the open water of the Great Lakes and the tranquility of Martindale Pond, the waterfront community of Port Dalhousie has always been a picturesque setting. Home to the two-kilometre Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course since 1903, it recently saw the introduction of the Neil Campbell Rowing Centre — which makes it feel more majestic than ever.

Neil Campbell Rowing Centre

A graceful, transparent pavilion topped by a minimalist cantilevered roof, the 530-square-metre centre — which houses a well-equipped sports facility as well as meeting and event spaces — gestures toward the pond with a stepped landscape, inviting passersby and spectators to sit along the water. Inside, meanwhile, the monolithic roof frames the landscape with striking horizontality, inviting the eye to trace the treeline horizon and follow the aquatic racecourse below. While the glass envelope effectively dissolves the boundary between inside and out — figuratively and literally, as it can be opened up to create an indoor–outdoor spectator pavilion for viewing races — the soft interior lighting and the ceiling’s warm wood soffit combine to create a sort of lantern on the landscape.

“I used to be a rower, so I love being inside training and looking out at the water. I think that’s what’s really beautiful about this project. Isn’t that great?”
Wanda Dalla Costa, AZ Awards 2024 Juror
Neil Campbell Rowing Centre

The building’s Miesian simplicity belies a complex and impressively sustainable design strategy: The entire facility rests on 15-metre-long screw piles that extend to the bedrock, while the triple-glazed, Passive House–certified curtain wall is paired with an innovative mass timber roof system utilizing Canadian glue-laminated and cross-laminated timber (CLT). The latter is held aloft by a light steel column structure and a centralized service core.

Neil Campbell Rowing Centre

On the roof, a photovoltaic array generates the building’s operating energy, while passive measures including integral cross-ventilation and passive heating and cooling (thanks in part to the concrete floor slab) help to ensure that the building meets both net-zero carbon emissions and net-zero energy design benchmarks. For MJMA and RAAI, the site-sensitive design philosophy seamlessly translates to technical innovation. The Neil Campbell Rowing Centre harnesses the wind and the sun — and celebrates the water and the trees.

Team: Robert Allen, Tyler Walker and Dan Kronby with Ted Watson, Tarisha Dolyniuk, Andrew Filarski, Tim Belanger, Matt Lamers, Brad Augustine, Monica Leung and Timothy Lai (MJMA); Emilio Raimondo and Brennan Klys (Raimondo + Associates Architects)

Winner: Buildings Under 1,000SqM
Neil Campbell Rowing Centre

The building’s Miesian simplicity belies a complex and impressively sustainable design strategy.

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