Named for the South Vancouver residents who fought in World War II, the original Sunset Memorial Community Centre opened in 1950. Two years prior, legendary crooner Bing Crosby performed at the site during a groundbreaking and fundraising ceremony. Over the years, the center started to show its age. Furthermore, because it was located two blocks away from a major street, it lacked visibility and accessibility.
To better serve the rapidly expanding community of Vancouver—with its high percentage of recent immigrants, young children, and young families—the city decided to build a new, larger center along Main Street. The facility was to include space for children and programs for immigrants and non-English speakers. Another man named Bing—Vancouver-based architect Bing Thom—and his firm were tapped to design the building.
The new, 30,000-square-foot facility was constructed on a six-block parcel adjacent to the 10-acre Sunset Nursery, which features greenhouses and planting beds. The building’s design draws upon the geometries of the city grid and the history of the site as a working farm, as well as the cultural diversity of South Vancouver.
The center integrates community and landscape together in a striking composition, with a plan that deploys rooms around an internal spine. The swooping roof structure, the most dramatic element of the building, has five free-form sections. Each section is unique in form and scale, and defines one of the buildings’ five core components: the central gymnasium, the multi-purpose space for community gatherings, the weight lifting and aerobic room, the arts and crafts area, and the administration offices.
Each of the building’s 46 structural concrete panels is uniquely shaped. Exterior panels are insulated, and remain exposed inside and out. The glazed curtain wall unifies the exterior with a horizontal pattern. The front elevation’s fritted-glass facade reads as a random checkerboard grid, alternating whimsically between opaque and translucent.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
*indicates registered architects
Geotechnical: GeoPacific Consultants Ltd.
Code: Pioneer Consultants
Cost: LEC Quantity Surveyors
Parking: Bunt & Associates
Acoustical: Brown Strachan Associates
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Structural steel: Solid Rock Steel
Metal/glass curtainwall: Prestige Glass
Concrete: Mardina Construction
Metal: Mercury Metals
Hardware: Assa Abloy Canada Door Security Solutions
Wood doors: Eggers
Upswinging doors, other: Cornell
Exit devices: Von Duprin
Demountable partitions: Kwik-Wall
Paints and stains: Dunn-Edwards / Penofin
Paneling: 9 Wood
Floor and wall tile: Graniti Fiandre (Bathrooms)
Wood flooring: Action Floor Systems
Resinous flooring: General Polymers
Recycled glass countertops: Vetrazzo
Downlights: Prescolite / Kurt Versen / Zumtobel