The Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre officially opens at the UBC Okanagan campus today.

The Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre officially opens at the UBC Okanagan campus today.

UBCO’s Hangar centre takes fitness to new heights

The $4.1 million wood-themed facility inspired by donor's vision.

  • Sep. 17, 2013 6:00 p.m.

The newest facility for students, faculty, and staffat UBC’s Okanagan,  the $4.1-million Hangar Fitness & Wellness Centre, represents many things to many people.

Not only is it an architectural work of art, but the facility  – which officially opens today– represents a significant gift to UBCO while showcasing the wonders of building with wood.

In operation since mid-July, the 850-square-metre addition to the university’s gymnasium houses a spacious cardio-exercise and strength-training space, studios for yoga, combat sports, spin bikes, Pilates and dancing, and will eventually accommodate an interior climbing wall.

“This outstanding new facility reflects a shared commitment of our community, the university, and our generous donors to health and wellness,” says UBC’s Okanagan campus deputy vice-chancellor and principal Deborah Buszard. “The Hangar will provide much-needed recreation space for everyone, but in particular for our students, who need it to be healthy and productive.”

The facility’s name recognizes a  $3.5-million gift from the Lapointe family, honouring the employees of Kelowna Flightcraft. Funding for the Hangar came with two specific stipulations – it required an aviation theme, and construction was to be mostly from local lumber to support the region’s forestry industry.

A design-build competition for the building was won by Kindred Construction in partnership with McFarland Marceau Architects. The result? A remarkable structure that appears to hover beside the current gymnasium, while at the same time emulating the curved wing of an aircraft.

For UBC Athletics Director Rob Johnson, it also represents a much-needed space where students, faculty, and staff can exercise on the latest equipment, join a fitness class, take personalized training, and improve their health. The Hangar is also a boon to UBC’s Okanagan Heat athletes, newly minted as full members of Canada West Universities Athletic Association and Canadian Interuniversity Sport.

“Until now, we have not been able to offer built-to-purpose fitness space, and we operated as best we could in a converted off-court storage area,” said Johnson. “The Hangar combines a beautiful and sustainable design, which includes lots of natural light with state-of-the-art fitness equipment.”

Inside, the building retains its light and airy feeling, as connection to the gym’s second floor is via a floating glass hallway – giving users expansive views of the campus.

During the summer, when much of the new exercise equipment arrived, Johnson and his staff were busy looking for the right type of people to work in the Hangar. The athletics department now boasts a full-time fitness coordinator, and 10 staff who work in group fitness and personal training areas – eight of whom are current students or alumni. An operations staff of 38 that works in customer service and as Hangar monitors, are all current students.

“We have hired highly qualified, enthusiastic, and motivated people and we are partnering with the university’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences to provide expertise and student practicum experiences,” said Johnson. “As a result we can now offer group and individual fitness programming to all members of the campus community.

“I encourage everyone to come over and see the wonderful gift the Lapointe family has given our campus.”

An official opening for the new facility takes place Tuesday, September 17, 9:30 a.m. at the Hangar Fitness & Wellness Centre, beside the Gymnasium at 3211 Athletics Court, Kelowna, BC.



Budget: $4.1 million, includes a $3.5-million gift from the Lapointe family. The donation kicked off UBC Okanagan’s Start an Evolution campaign in September 2011; the campaign has now reached about $69 million. The donation came with the stipulation that the building must feature wood-themed construction and somehow represent the aviation industry.

The Hangar offers 35 cardio machines with interactive goal setting and Internet capabilities fully equipped weight room including resistance machines, free weights and functional training equipment. The two fitness studios feature classes such as yoga, Zumba, bootcamps, and spin with more than 20 classes offered each week.

Facility space: More than 825 square metres (8,800 square feet), with 464 square metres (5,000 sq. ft.) of cardio space on the Hangar’s second floor

Volume of wood products used: 407 cubic metres (14,362 cubic feet) of lumber and sheathing

Wood Works BC was brought into the planning stage early and helped in the design process to incorporate important key symbolic elements and efficient wood applications. With the profile of an aircraft wing, the building seems to float on its base, and the second floor projects skyward as if ready to take off. Glass walls face north and east, flooding the facility with natural light. The Hangar’s 3-D roof structure is made of cross-laminated timbers, where thin panels, stretching over the vast roof area, are laminated together to form a rigid two-way structural grid.

Part of the building’s sustainability and environmentally-friendly aspect is its floor—made from recycled rubber. The Tire Stewardship BC (TSBC) granted UBC more than $22,000 as part of its 2012 Community Grant Program. TSBC manages BC’s scrap tire recycling program and its grant program provides matching funds up to $30,000 to organizations, schools, and municipalities that use BC recycled rubber in their projects.

Carbon Footprint:

• Carbon stored in the wood: 289 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide

• Avoided greenhouse gas emissions: 112 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide

• Total potential carbon benefit: 401 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide

• This is equivalent to 77 cars off the road for a year or the energy to operate a home for 34 years

Construction began in spring 2012. UBC took occupancy late May 2013, just in time for Convocation 2013.

Architect: McFarland Marceau Architects Ltd.
Builder: Kindred Construction Ltd.
Structural Engineer: Equilibrium Consulting Inc.

Cross Laminated Timber/glu-lam supplier: Structurlam Products Ltd.


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