The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre has been recognized by the Institution of Structural Engineers.

Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre wins international design award

South Surrey facility recognized as "the world's top structural engineering project" by the Institution of Structural Engineers.

The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre has been lauded again for its design – this time on the internationals stage.

The South Surrey facility, located at 16855 24 Ave., was recognized as “the world’s top structural engineering project” by the Institution of Structural Engineers (iStructE) at a ceremony in London, England on Nov. 11.

In announcing the award, judges from the Institution of Structural Engineers said they “were struck by the undulating roof” of the Grandview Aquatic Centre, “which elegantly balances structural form with building use and celebrates the expressed materials.”

Vancouver engineering firm Fast + Epp and the City of Surrey were also celebrated for creating “a dynamic community facility” that also used local wood in its construction.

The Institution of Structural Engineers is “the world’s leading professional body for qualifications and standards in structural engineering,” according to a news release received Wednesday.

Last week’s award comes seven months after the aquatic facility – which, after a few delays, opened last March – won a pair of national design awards.

At the 2015 Awards for Engineering Excellence in April, the centre was named the winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award of Engineering Excellence, with judges saying the facility “excels in all areas.”

Earlier this year, the facility also received the 2016 Schreyer Award from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies of Canada.

The Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre includes a 10-lane, 50-m competitive pool, leisure pool, water slides, diving towers and a weight room. Outside the building is a two-part sculpture, Circulation – by artists Pierre Sasseville and Jean-Francois Cooke.

The $55-million project took approximately three years to complete.

First announced in 2012 – alongside plans for a similar facility in Guildford – the pool was originally expected to be built by the summer of 2014, but construction delays pushed the opening to the spring of 2016.

The facility has not been without detractors. When initial plans were first unveiled in 2012, local swimming and diving clubs told city officials the proposed design was not adequate for provincial and national-level swim and dive competitions. Members of those user groups – which included Olympians – appeared as a delegation to city council in March 2012 but told Peace Arch News they received “a frosty reception.”

When built, one of the centre’s unique characteristics – which was mentioned by judges in the handing out of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award – was a universal, all-gender changing room and shower facility.

However, last June, a South Surrey woman complained to pool staff and RCMP after she was recorded on a cellphone while in a shower stall in the universal facility, in which walls separating shower stalls do not reach the floor or ceiling.

The incident led to one man being banned from all City of Surrey facilities, though a subsequent city-led review found there were no concerns with the universal changing room at the Grandview facility.

“The facility meets or exceeds all building code and Fraser Health requirements,” Stacey Rennie, the city’s manager of community and recreation services for South Surrey, told Peace Arch News in July.

The pool was closed from Aug. 29 until Oct. 3 for “scheduled warranty maintenance,” which included inspection and maintenance work of all mechanical systems, though the centre’s weight-room remained open.

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