The new Centre de glaces Intact Assurance in Quebec, Canada, promotes community ownership and user comfort. Thus, the identity of the project was first articulated by this desire for openness; the design of all its spaces was then oriented by a maximization of the relationship with the outdoor environment. What comes to life is a renovation and expansion on what was once an iconic building that reduces its impact on the environment by prioritizing adaptive strategies—rather than demolishing and building again. Plus, modernizing it and opening it further unto the community has made it a cohesive new whole for users to enjoy. Today, it contributes to the democratization of a high-level sport, while giving the users access to various activities inside unique and permanent contact with the outside world.
The Centre was built on the site of an iconic outdoor refrigerated rink, important in the collective memory of athletes and residents of Quebec. The site had landscape qualities to be preserved, like embankments and trees surrounding the rink that create a natural screen from the highway. Its location was carefully considered to limit access to heavy machinery to preserve as much green space as possible. The definition of new vegetated areas accessible to the public guided the design of the exterior landscaping. Eventually, existing mature trees will continue to grow alongside those newly planted, and the Centre’s 360-degree band of windows will continuously maintain users’ relationship between the inside and the outside.
The building is energy efficient with a state-of-the-art CO2 ice refrigeration system. It uses natural refrigerants that have no impact on global warming, including ammonia for the primary system and CO2 as a secondary coolant, which is rarely used because it is more complex, but is very efficient in terms of energy consumption and provides incomparable ice quality. Wood is used in all open spaces, evoking continuity with the outdoor landscape and contributing to user comfort; a warm contrast with the immaculate white of the ice, while being an environmentally friendly building material. Finishes were minimal and left raw materials visible. Using wood and steel cladding throughout enabled the project to meet financial and functional objectives and ensured better acoustic control inside.
This project demonstrates how skillful out-of-the-box thinking can lead to cost-reducing solutions: For example, the geometry of the frame was designed specifically to limit the height of the building, resulting in a comfortable and bright interior space. On the other hand, a simple envelope shape and optimal use of exterior cladding created a 360-degree window band—one of the Centre's great aesthetic qualities—that allows for a healthy environment in permanent contact with the outside world. Wood is present in all the open spaces, in continuity with the exterior landscape and contributing to the comfort of users. It also contributes to orienting visitors, who are guided from the entrance by this gesture of wood that extends from the entrance hall to the main areas accessible to the public. Through its smart use of space, the Centre can host varied sports—from running to speed or figure skating—and cater to a whole community within an inviting setting that cleverly hides its mechanical and technical elements, leaving the focus on sports.
At the project’s opening in 2021, the mayor of Quebec City spoke of his pride for the new Centre de glaces Intact Assurance—a space he believes heals a ‘historic injustice’ by opening the site back up to the whole community. By democratizing the play and spectacle of ice-sports to all, users of all ages, backgrounds and sport preferences can make the most of the Centre, on and off the ice, or on the running track.
For more than 60 years, Lemay has aimed to reshape the future by designing places to grow. The firm’s 450 architects, designers, industry leaders, and change-makers strive to design spaces that improve the natural environment, create value for the businesses and communities they serve, and improve the lives of the people who use them.
Lemay is engaged in finding new ways to design and build healthy spaces that will engage users and bring people together, while being good for the planet. The firm seeks to create solutions for individuals and communities, while addressing the fundamental challenges our world faces. Lemay believes buildings should give more than they take, and of doing more with less: its head office is a sustainable design lab that boasts a 3-star Fitwel rating, as Zero Carbon Building Standard and is LEED-Platinum certified.