The Wellesley Pool Addition constitutes phase 2 of a project completed by MJMA and ZAS Architects in 2005 — the Wellesley Community Centre, which occupies two-thirds of a block in downtown Toronto. This addition builds off its eastern elevation into a previously unprogrammed lawn area to mediate a connection between the city’s urban core and St. Jamestown, one of Canada’s densest and most ethnically diverse communities.
Clad in glass and custom-profile zinc, the addition houses a light-filled aquatics hall with a five-lane, 25-metre lap pool, a leisure and hydrotherapy pool, and a steam room. Following consultation with the community, a planned waterslide was replaced with a diving platform that has an integrated waterfall feature. The original changeroom programming has been expanded and updated into a pair of universally accessible changerooms separated from the staff areas and pool deck by tiled partitions that are punctured by glazed slots to maintain a discreet visual connection between these spaces. New spaces also include two multipurpose rooms, a staff office, and an interior bridge that marries the addition to the existing structure. A green roof divides the volumes housing the aquatics hall and multipurpose rooms, forming a rooftop “meadow” visible from the interior public corridor.
Despite its restricted budget and the ambition of its program, the existing Centre has been lauded as a success story for the St. James Town neighbourhood, both as a highly functional hybrid civic building and as an example of “beauty on a budget.” Two decades after the Aquatics programming was removed from the original plan due to budgetary restrictions, the Pool Addition will complete the City’s vision for a “full community centre program” to serve this vibrant high-needs neighbourhood. The addition will continue the centre’s legacy by providing previously lacking program within a well-proportioned volume that respects the context of the neighbourhood.