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Building Excellence

Langs Community Health Centre: A model for thoughtful design

Cambridge - Langs in Cambridge, Waterloo Region was recently highlighted as an example provincially for the community hub model. A truly multi-user facility with an emphasis on preventative health solutions, Langs operates a Community Health Centre, a Diabetes Education Program and a variety of programs for preschool, youth and seniors. The Hub@1145 is co-located with 18 different community organizations at the hub including the William E Paultler, 50+ Adult Recreation Centre. The hub model could fulfill the province's vision to integrate services and address the needs of the aging population, with a wide range of services all in one place. This type of model also enables local users to proactively manage their health and reduce the need for more costly services.

The facility recently hosted a workshop with Karen Pitre, the Premier's Special Advisor on Community Hubs, and representatives from over 23 municipalities eager to hear from a panel of guest speakers involved with Langs' design and operating team (including Robertson Simmons' architects inc.'s Laird A. Robertson). The discussion highlighted the many benefits of the Langs model, such as shared resources, flexible response to local needs, social return on investment, access to a broader range of services, and reduced operating costs.

In 2010, Langs, a non-profit, neighbourhood-based organization, needed a new facility to accommodate their growing roster of community support programs and services. RSai was able to help the design and construction team achieve completion (and time-sensitive government funding) in only 11 months using its successful Hyper Speed Delivery™ model.

A challenge in a multi-use, multi-owner space is addressing seemingly competing needs and a wide range of stakeholders. With the skills it honed through school design (with numerous stakeholders) and shared spaces such as multi-tenant offices, RSai was able to bring all parties together to form a consensus around needs and design vision.

"RSai took a participatory approach to design, creating an inclusive environment where stakeholders were consulted often," says Bill Davidson, Executive Director of Langs.

Now complete and fully occupied for several years, the new Concession Road building is a bright, welcoming, two-storey, community hub. Positioned at opposite ends of the building with separate entrances, the Seniors Centre and Community Health Centre spaces are joined through a central atrium that boasts a beautiful, interior living green wall that's perpendicular to a two-storey wall of glazing. These windows offer a peaceful view of a landscaped exterior courtyard, while infusing natural light into the pedestrian corridor, adjacent shared gymnasium, and upper level fitness track. On the second floor, administrative and partnership services overlook a 6,000-square-foot green roof that provides a pleasant natural view for offices.

Mr. Davidson says, "We've had people from across Ontario visit and tour the building, and everyone who walks in says it's absolutely stunning. Visitors love the green lounge, living wall and courtyard, which is really a key focal point. People love the flow of the building and how rooms and functions are strategically and thoughtfully placed." They are particularly excited about the opportunities that hubs create for collaboration and integration of programs and services to respond to the holistic needs of individuals, families and communities said Davidson.

This cost-effective project came in under budget – a rarity for most projects, let alone one completed in less than a year. Beyond this, Langs was thrilled with the positive response they received from user groups, community partners and the public. In fact, facility use has quadrupled compared with the past facility – no doubt in part to the comfortable and intuitive design which has made the facility a recognizable and inviting part of the community.

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