Strong Roots

Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre | Photo: Ema Peter Photography

Why wood is the natural choice for HCMA Architecture + Design

Darryl Condon and his firm, HCMA Architecture + Design, have embraced and often pioneered the use of wood and mass timber in community, civic, and recreational aquatic facilities throughout British Columbia and Canada. Condon shares why wood is often an integral material in the buildings they design, and how they’ve pushed the boundaries of what is possible with wood.

Q: Why have you made community centres and recreation facilities a significant focus for your firm?

A: There are many aspects of responsibility that come with the privilege of designing community buildings. These facilities play a vital role in civic life and ultimately in helping to shape strong, just, and cohesive communities. At HCMA, we strive to challenge the traditional boundaries of architectural practice and become catalysts for positive change. Good architecture, I believe, builds community in many ways, but central to this is providing the context for positive social engagement. Whether it be a library, a school, an ice arena, or a swimming pool, they accommodate functions—yet these activities can be seen as a means to a greater end: building community.

Q: What role does wood, as a building material, play in the facilities you design?

A: As a firm we have been exploring the many ways that we can achieve better social outcomes, both through our work and the tools and methodologies we use in the process. For us, the use of wood in community facilities is directly linked to this. The environmental benefits of wood are increasingly well understood, but it is important to recognize the broader social sustainability benefits as well. We are fortunate to have many municipal clients that embrace this mandate and we have enjoyed their support as we have explored the nature and capacity of wood construction. As British Columbians, it makes sense that we are drawn to building with wood and we’ve really embraced pushing the envelope with what you can do with wood, such as with Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre.

Read the full interview