Delbrook Community Recreation Centre


North Vancouver, BC


8,826 square metres





Structural Engineer

RJC Consulting Engineers

Wood Supplier

Western Archrib

Project Materials


Glue-laminated timber (Glulam)


Structural Systems

Low rise

Post + beam


A defining feature of the Delbrook Community Recreation Centre in North Vancouver is a two-storey glue-laminated timber (glulam) central corridor that acts as the spine of the building.

  • Wood elements include a dramatic glulam “spine” that is predominant in the facility.
  • Architects created an airy and bright building that emerges from its natural surroundings. Wood is used structurally and as a practical element, incorporated into acoustic panels.

The Delbrook Community Recreation Centre is three levels of public recreational, cultural, and mixed-use space that provides the community with weight rooms, six-lane pool, gymnasium and sports courts, as well as multi-purpose and arts rooms. The architects incorporated the site’s natural beauty into the design, creating a complex that appears to emerge from its surroundings.  A salmon stream running through a forested area with walking trails and sports fields provides the backdrop to the building.

A glulam wood spine defines the space

Wood features prominently in the community centre’s public spaces, to maximize visual impact. Double-height Douglas-fir glulam columns and beams frame the large public corridor—or spine—which is flanked by windows that bring in daylight. The glulam beams support Douglas fir glulam timber planks used for the long spans. The wood planks sit on top of the beams and columns, forming an immediate impression for visitors.

Sustainable design was key

Because sustainability was a key goal, designers incorporated regional wood materials throughout their design choices. Wood also fit with the community’s budget, schedule and design expectations. Wood was used as one of the primary structural materials, a hybrid frame made of heavy glulam timber, concrete and steel. As well, designers were able to achieve relatively long spans in a shallow depth with wood, easing the coordination of mechanical and electrical utilities within restricted spaces.

The practicalities of wood

In the reception area, an acoustic wood panel system was incorporated into the walls and ceiling to reduce the ambient noise level in the double-height space. The system hides mechanical and lighting systems. Aesthetically, the wood adds warmth and character to the space. Multi-purpose rooms benefit from sprung wood floors, combined with plywood-clad walls covered with wood veneer, allowing for warmth and durability.

“Situated within a park surrounded by forests, streams and mountains, this building serves a community that values the outdoors. The project’s wood elements, combined with the use of glass, helped create a building that is warm and welcoming.”

Nicola Chevallier, P.Eng., Section Manager for Facilities and Special Projects, The District of North Vancouver.