Prix du XXe siècle — 2012 Recipient | Royal Architectural Institute of Canada

Prix du XXe siècle — 2012 Recipient

Peter Hemingway Fitness and Leisure Centre (1969-70)

Hemingway and Laubenthal Architects

Award Category: 
Prix du XXe siècle

The Hemingway Fitness & Leisure Centre by Peter Hemingway was commissioned as a project to mark Canada’s centennial for Edmonton. Originally named Coronation Pool this stunning facility displays a flowing-wave in its roof structure suspended with cables and bold outlines made with contrasting materials such as heavy timber, concrete, steel and glass. The facility, completed in 1970, reflects the modern architecture movement of the 1960s in Canada’s prairie provinces.

The shape of the building steps away from the typical boxiness, found internationally at that decade, and references the Rocky Mountains, the foothills and the rolling flatlands of the prairies. Hemingway felt that the most powerful Canadian buildings from the post-war era were erected in the prairies “out of [a] harsh necessity for strong forms in a landscape wide as Heaven or Hell.”

Peter Hemingway’s unique structures beautify and enhance Edmonton’s landscape, and continue to amaze and inspire architects, citizens and visitors alike. 

Jury Comment(s): 

"It is a nationally-significant example of the architectural creativity and confidence engendered by Canada’s centennial celebrations. Its design reflects a particular Modernist response to the Prairie landscape, the setting for some of the most powerful Canadian architecture of the post-war era. It expresses a delight in the potential of new technologies, with its inventive mix of glass, steel, heavy timber, and concrete. The flowing wave form, reflecting the pool within, gives it a certain uniqueness within the more prevalent rectilinear Modernism of the time.

Its significance has endured not only because of its iconic design, but also because of the high level of maintenance and care over the years. It continues to serve its original use. Both the building and its architect were warmly embraced by the community, and have served an important role in terms of local and regional pride and identity. "

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photo supplied by Maureen Hemingway-Schloss

photo: City of Edmonton Archives

photo: James Dow

photo: City of Edmonton Archives