New BMGCC design progressing says Blake - Aug. 2, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Local designer Chris Blake and members of the Brussels, Morris and Grey Renovation Committee are now well on their way to taking the next steps towards improving and expanding the local centre.
Blake and a handful of committee members spent Friday touring several local arenas to help get the creative juices flowing. Whether it was to find ideas or concepts to stay away from, the tour process is already well underway.
The committee first met in late June and suggested bringing Blake on for his expertise, not only in the world of design, but as someone local who has been using the centre for decades. He recently sat down with the members of the committee to discuss what they were hoping to accomplish and how he could help.
Blake said that he and the committee met at his Brussels-area office where together they looked over the original plans, which had been prepared by GB Architect in Stratford, and discussed what they hoped to change and improve from those years-old plans.
At its first meeting, the committee made quick progress on plans to renovate and expand the centre, which included six additional dressing rooms, in addition to retaining the four current dressing rooms. Years ago, the centre’s dressing rooms were identified as an area of concern and other plans have grown from there.
The plans proposed by the committee members would expand the centre on both the south and east sides, creating a new entrance to the southeast corner that would completely reconfigure the centre. The entrance would now come in diagonally from the southeast corner to a large lobby and players could walk to the left to access the new dressing rooms, while parents and fans could travel to the right towards the rest of the facility.
Members emphasized the importance of having one main entrance to funnel everyone through. However, alleviating traffic and congestion in the lobby so both players and parents can get where they need to go is also crucial to the success of the new site.
The new configuration would also make use of the parking lot to the south side of the facility, which has been underutilized in recent years.
There has also been discussion about the creation of a new warm, enclosed viewing area on the west side of the centre.
For his part in working with the committee, Blake said that those at GB Architect have been very co-operative and accommodating in supplying the committee with the original plans and consenting to let them be used going forward, pending approval of all changes, which Blake says it completely reasonable.
Blake’s work in the process, he said, began with GB sending its CAD (computer-assisted design) file over to him. From there, he was able to work with the existing plans and, with GB’s approvals, ensure that everything that’s being suggested is something that can physically be done at the centre.
As someone who has been using the centre since he was a child, Blake said he is excited and encouraged by the changes being proposed by the committee. As a user of the arena, he said it was no secret that its dressing rooms were on the small side.
However, as someone who has played hockey for a number of years, Blake hasn’t really made a point to look at arenas he’s visited or patronized from his designer’s point of view.
When you’re in a dressing room, Blake said, you really know whether it’s too small, sufficient or big. The tours have allowed him to get into other area dressing rooms and measure their dimensions, giving him a concrete idea of what will work in Brussels and what won’t.
The committee has endeavoured to visit a number of arenas in the area, both brand new ones and arenas that have been restored.
Blake said that he and the committee plan on working on a design in the coming weeks before bringing something to the local user groups and members of the public. That way, when the committee brings everyone in for their input, they will have concrete plans at which to look. However, Blake and the committee won’t be so far down the road that changes won’t be welcome. There will still be plenty of room for suggestions and changes, he said.
With GB wanting to review the progress being made, taking as few steps as possible along the way, Blake said, makes the most sense. If the design goes back and forth and has to be reviewed by the architect countless times, the process could really be drawn out.
Meanwhile, on the fundraising side of the project, that committee has already met and has some ideas as to how it plans to proceed, with plans to meet again next month.