The Meadowvale Community Centre
Today was a nice, slightly overcast day, and so I decided to take a walk around the newly-built Meadowvale Community Centre, as I have been wanting to take some photos of the centre since it opened last fall. I have been a few times, but with all the mad excitement of this modern and well received building, it was constantly filled with people. And as much as I love taking photos, I was sure to look like a sad little tourist with my big fat camera hanging around my neck and snapping photos all over the place.
So today was a perfect day, without the crowds, but the grass is now green and all of the plants are finally starting to burst with foliage. I think everyone knows what the front of the building now looks like, and it really does make quite a dominant impression. If you know Meadowvale, it is lush with trees and paths and greenery. And then out of the green, springs this great white modern facade. The contrast is quite striking and impressive. Originally developed in the 70’s, the architecture of Meadowvale is quite angular and bold, and so I think the Community Centre has interpreted this style in a modern way. The mix of wood, concrete and and natural elements offers contrast of shape and dynamic lines.
The formal garden out front are quite attractive, but is the only thing a little of out place in reference to Meadowvale. When you drive down the streets of Meadowvale and even into the parks, you will get a natural, woodsy feel. Nothing is too contrived; wild, country-style gardens are the norm, and yards are mostly landscaped with trees and wild bushes. The area was never formal, so very few homes have restrained their gardens with linear plantings or defined lines.
But I will still say, I do like the design of the front gardens and it’s very similar in vibe to those on the Sheridan College Campus in downtown Mississauga. And even though it feels modern, these are timeless designs that were used back in France and all over Europe hundreds of years ago. So I do think that the look of this centre has a timeless appeal. The concept is high contrast between materials and linear plantings.
My only concern is what happens to the large, colourful banners as they start to fade and degrade…..10 years down the road if the city coffers are dry and the needs out-strip funding. I worry that this aspect of the building could make the whole frontage look quite shabby if they cannot be properly maintained. Only time will tell.
The best surprises are at the back of the building. I truly enjoy the lines of the building from the back end even more than the front, with different planes and levels to add visual interest. The landscaping of the grounds is top notch, mixing hardscape and green space in creative ways. Your eye is drawn along the paths from one area to the next, and there’s a sense of discovery around every turn. There is a basketball court, splash pad, kids climbing area, interconnected paths, and numerous lookouts to the lake.
The greatest advantage of the Meadowvale Community Centre is that its on the lake. The view are spectacular and the designers made sure every view was the best it could be. The new boardwalk is gorgeous itself, and allows many people to sit and enjoy the view to the lake. There are many apartments and homes nestled all around the large lake, and they all have path access to this serene habitat. You will see all kinds of birds and water fowl, and other wild animals. You can take a long stroll all the way around the lake, or power your way through the various exercise stations situated along the path. Many people in Mississauga know nothing of this lake, and this lake is the reason why people in Meadowvale aren’t clamouring down to Lake Ontario and those parks all the time; we have our own to enjoy.
Moving inside the centre, I still didn’t take too many pictures in case I would draw too much attention to myself, but there is a good size weight room, mid size pool (it’s smaller than the pool at Erin Meadows) and modern family change rooms. One entire wall of the two story pool is glass, so there is an upper and lower level gallery to watch the swimmers. There are many community rooms with lovely views to the back gardens and lake, including a cooking studio for City Rec scheduled classes. On the upper level is the gymnasium and library, which both have full window walls to the front gardens. They have done an excellent job creating an indoor-outdoor feeling with stunning exterior views from all angles.
What is the best hidden gem of all, is the outdoor patio, equipped with tables and loungers. It overlooks the lake in the back, and so you can’t see that it exists from the front of the building. Upon entrance through the front doors of the Centre, there’s no signage that I saw that would lead you to the deck. You have to go into the library and up a ramp to find the door to the back patio. Im actually hesitating as a write this thinking…..do I really want everyone to know about this now?………but I want to show you what it looks like so let’s just keep it a secret between you and I then.
Overall, I think the Meadowvale Community Centre is a long awaited and well deserved upgrade to the Village of Meadowvale. Even thought I often disagree with the spending decisions of the City, the old Community Centre was run down and no longer a desired gathering place for residents, and needed repair. While the rest of the city was rewarded with brand new centres, we waited steadfast, hoping for some notice. The City repaid us ten-fold for our patience. It is a stunning building that makes us all proud, and can once again be a place to learn, socialize, and play.