Cost of project: $43.5 million
Square footage: 100,000 sq.ft.
Student population: 29,000
Capacity:  2,000 patrons per day
Opening day: February 25, 2015

Sport Architecture

The new fitness center at the University of Manitoba is a cutting-edge facility that best combines an innovative design with the best solutions for sports, among which the Mondo flooring.

"Our research has shown that the Mondo products are the right option for the Active Living Centre because each has a distinct feature that meets our needs," George Cibinel, Director of Cibinel Architecture

A beacon that illuminates the university

In February 2015, the University of Manitoba, located in Winnipeg, celebrated the opening of the long-awaited Active Living Centre, the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management’s sport and recreation facilities. The Centre is dedicated to increasing the wellness of students, faculty and the people living in the community. With top-of-the-line equipment and floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides, the four-story building acts as a beacon, welcoming everyone who comes to the university. As the largest fitness facility in the province of Manitoba, the Active Living Centre can accommodate 2,000 patrons a day. 

Healthy living goals

The Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management promotes sport and active living through various university and community programs for people of all ages. It has a long history of success in intercollegiate sport and prepares future kinesiologists, physical educators and recreation specialists. At the same time, the faculty provides knowledge to consumers on the benefits of physical activity. 

International creative efforts

When the project began in 2009, lead designer Cibinel Architecture Ltd. joined forces with award-winning Batteriid Architects from Iceland. “We worked jointly on the design until the construction began in 2012,” says George Cibinel, principal. “We wanted to create a place that would not only promote recreation as a healthy lifestyle, but would encourage students to stay after discovering it. One way to achieve that was by designing a facility that is visually connected so that people can see and experience many activities taking place, creating a vibrant atmosphere for everyone. There is also a strong connection between the interior and exterior with bright, sunlit spaces that blend with the natural environment. The café and lounge area off the main entrance opens on to the sidewalk in good weather, with many tables to create an indoor/outdoor seating option.” 


Prior to the Active Living Centre being completed, the university’s workout rooms and running track were in an area affectionately called the "Gritty Grotto" on the basement level of the adjacent Frank Kennedy Centre. The new facility is completely different with its bright, welcoming atmosphere. “With a 35-foot climbing wall that starts on the third floor and rises past the running track towards a skylight area, the visuals of the room are dramatic. The climbing wall can be seen from the entrance, so it dominates the space,” says Cibinel.  

An "extroverted" building

Built at the end of the Frank Kennedy Centre, the concept for the addition was to create an extroverted building that emphasizes physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being. This was achieved by connecting spaces and individuals to activities and nature. “When people are on the running track or exercising on the third-floor group fitness area, they can see the trees surrounding the building,” says Cibinel.

Cibinel says with its glass walls the entire building is visible, including all of the exercise stations. “Because the Centre is well lit and fully glazed it is going to be a beacon marking one of the main entry points to the campus, especially in the winter when the grounds are dark first thing the morning and early evening.”

Multiple choices for fitness

The Active Living Centre includes several workout areas complete with 160 pieces of cardio equipment, 64 pieces of resistance equipment, 49 pieces of strength equipment, and over 1,000 pieces of free weights and accessories. “The top two levels of the facility will be the most prominent,” says Simon Wang, facilities manager and member of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. “Our 200-metre running track on the 4th level is supported by steel beams, making it look like it is floating above the general workout area where we have the cardio, resistance and strength training equipment.” On the second floor, along with three multi-purpose studios, a wing with administrative offices has been included and a 10,000 square-foot space will become the applied research centre. “This will house our researchers and academics, and will be an integral component of the faculty and university to further enhance the programs on healthy living and physical activity.”

The university’s Bison Sports varsity programs can take advantage of a high performance training centre on the first level, says Wang. “The fitness levels for people using the Active Living Centre range from the elite athlete to anyone who has never been to a gym and is a total beginner at exercise.” The first level is complete with a social gathering area for students and food service. 

Mondo, the best choice

Each year, more than 7,800 students and 1,000 staff and community members use the sport and recreation facilities at the University of Manitoba. With such a high traffic load, flooring that will stand the test of extensive use is essential. “To meet the performance criteria of the users and their activities, material selections were assessed for their durability and performance,” says Cibinel. “Our research showed that Mondo products were the right options for the Active Living Centre because each had a distinct purpose that suited our needs.”


For the strength and conditioning, cardio and resistance, free weights and stretching areas, Mondo Sport Impact was installed as it provides impact protection and acoustic mitigation from heavy weights. The nonporous surface allows for thorough cleaning and slip resistance.  “The multi-purpose studios have Mondo Advance on the floors that provides a coefficient of friction suitable for athletic activity,” says Cibinel. 



Resistance and versatility

”The shock absorption and durability of the vulcanized rubber were also features that were considered in its selection. Its versatility allows a range of activities to occur in the space.”

For the fourth-floor track area, Sportflex was chosen for its cushioning surface and long life expectancy. “The material is also UV resistant, a factor that is important in a building such as this with abundant natural light,” Cibinel explains.

For a unique installation, Mondo Harmoni was specified as wall protection in selected areas. “With its bacteriostatic and acoustical properties, Harmoni provides an easy to maintain surface with functional and aesthetic qualities,” he adds.

“The available color range of the flooring products allowed us to further develop a scheme that was consistent with the University’s visual identity,” says Cibinel. “Creative patterning was used to reinforce the function of the space and add visual interest with barbell and ladder designs cut into the field colors with contrasting accents.”

With all of the amenities at the Active Living Centre, students and residents in the Winnipeg area will have many healthy days ahead.

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