By Dan Walton

Pioneer Staff

As the Invermere Community Hall continues to serve its purpose, it was the setting of a meeting to discuss the building thats going to replace it.

The District of Invermere (DOI) and SHAPE Architecture, which will be designing the new Columbia Valley Multi Use-Centre, invited the community out to a Meet the Architect event on Tuesday, February 17th. A presentation was done by architect Alec Smith to share his teams initial observations. They laid out the possibilities that can be realized through the resources available, which was followed by a question and answer session.

The natural wonder of the Columbia Valley is amazing, and a building that can take advantage of that is a really inspiring thing to be a part of, Mr. Smith said.

The location of the new multi-use centre on 4th Street and 7th Avenue is well-suited to enhance Invermeres functioning main street to the south, as well as newer commercial development to the north.

Mr. Smith said that the current community centre is about 70 years old, and theyre planning to design the new building to last just as long.

This type of opportunity for a town such as Invermere doesnt come along very often.

If we get it right, it will be able to maintain its functionality over time, it should be flexible enough to adapt when needed, he said.

While the team has a fair amount of breathing room to work with, Mr. Smith said that the biggest challenge will be to accommodate each of the user groups involved.

The main hall space needs to work for as many different users as possible. We dont want it to be overly flexible or it wont work well for anybody, he said.

Seating logistics were asked about, and while no firm decisions have been made, he said that movable raised seating and no stage will likely be the most accommodating.

From the audience, the biggest concern came from parking, and how it would affect nearby traffic.

There will be on-site parking planned, though Mr. Smith wants to avoid letting it dominate the site. Spaces on the street will also be available, and the DOI purchased a nearby empty lot on 7th Avenue to facilitate overflow parking when necessary. Mr. Smith said that its also beneficial to study traffic patterns, and co-ordinate the scheduling of events accordingly.

It was suggested that they make use of exterior walls and outdoor space to perhaps design an amphitheatre for the warmer months. Mr. Smith said that the idea was worth exploring.

Its still not known whether the building will be one or two stories. A suggestion was put forth to design the building to have a basement, but the cost of an underground floor would be very expensive, Mr. Smith said.