The Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia Awards in Architecture were established to recognize excellence in completed architectural projects led or designed by AIBC members. Firms, clients and lead design architects associated with chosen projects are honoured for their achievements in one of two award levels: Medal or Merit. On Thursday April 19 2018 at an annual ceremony held at the Architectural Institute of British Columbia, SHAPE Architecture was awarded the Lieutenant-Governor of BC Medal for the Columbia Valley Community Facility. Alec Smith, Principal, and Loretta Kong, Associate, led the project from early concept design through to construction and occupancy.
The Columbia Valley Community Facility includes a community hall and village library and together with back of house spaces including a commercial kitchen, storage areas, theatre control room, dressing areas and administrative and technical spaces. The building is sited at the terminus of the village main street forming an urban ensemble.
Throughout Canada, many small towns and villages converge around a single public building, the community hall. By virtue of the multitude of activities that such a building must accommodate, these halls must be flexible and adaptable. The Village of Invermere in cooperation with the Columbia Valley Regional District, sought to build a new community hall that could accommodate a wide range of activities from conferences to athletics, and town hall meetings to theatre and chamber music performances. The project mandate was to provide a new building to house this broad range of events but also reflect the spirit of the Columbia Valley.
When the team from SHAPE Architecture initially visited the Columbia Valley, approaching from the South, they were struck by a coreten steel rail bridge over a tributary of the Columbia River. Both in its colour and its form, the bridge, like that described by Heidegger in his essay Building, Dwelling, Thinking, seems to “gather the landscape” and capture through counterpoint, what was distinct and unique about the place. The long horizontality of this utilitarian infrastructure, seemed to dramatize the wandering horizon of the fortified Rockies to the East. Its orange and red textured surface heightened one’s appreciation of the burnt blond grasslands and black pine trunks that characterize the landscape of the Columbia Valley. As meetings with the client and the community flushed out the Village’s aspirations for the new Community Hall, the image of the rail bridge persisted and came to inform possibilities for the building.