Description of Historic Place
Sitting in the basin of a gorge, the Aquacourt at Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park of Canada is a low, horizontal, concrete and stone, flat and pavilion roof, U-shaped facility that is comprised of a basement, main level, penthouse and roof terrace. It’s horizontality is emphasized by metal-clad roof fascias that form conspicuous bands at the main and upper level, strip windows, a rock faced wall surface that rises above the roof deck of the main level to form a parapet enclosing the observation deck, and a stainless steel railing that runs along the crest of the pediment. The basement and main levels envelop three sides of a rectangular (cool) pool. The main entrance and ticket area are at the penthouse level. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Aquacourt is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
The Aquacourt is associated with spa development within Canada’s National Parks. It was the first major post-war building project in the western parks. It contributed to the historical development of the region when it gained international reputation as a spa destination. The Aquacourt’s construction provided the initial impetus for the establishment of the townsite at the Radium Hot Springs, and remained the primary attraction within the Kootenay National Park. The townsite was completely redeveloped over a 20-year period beginning in the early 1950s in response to highway reconstruction and increased Aquacourt visitation.
The Aquacourt is a very good example of modernist design inspired by the International style and heralded a shift away from the rustic aesthetic that had dominated National Parks design philosophy since the system’s inception in the 1880s. The Aquacourt is characterized by its modernist design, overall cube massing, pronounced horizontality, smooth surfaces and a clear expression of the structural grid demonstrated through its construction and nature of materials.
The Aquacourt at Radium Hot Springs reinforces the character of the spa within the Kootenay National Park through its relationship with the creek, pools and hot springs in its dramatic setting in the basin of a gorge. Circulation patterns at the site reinforce the connection between the landscape and the Aquacourt with pedestrian bridges connecting the main entrance to the upper deck and restaurant, and rooftop terraces. As the largest of three operational hot springs facilities, the Aquacourt is a major landmark in the National Park system, and in the south-west British Columbia and is a popular tourist destination.
Edward Mills, Aquacourt, Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 92-079; Aquacourt, Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement 92-079.
The character defining elements of the Aquacourt should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of spa development in Canada’s National Parks.
Its very good modernist design influenced by the International Style, its construction and nature of materials as manifested in:
-its overall asymmetrical but visually balanced cube massing;
-its U-shaped symmetrical plan;
-its strong horizontal lines, smooth surfaces and clear expression of the structural grid;
-its flat roofs and folded plate pavilion roofs;
-its projecting concrete roof and floor plates articulated as continuous eaves;
-the ribbed metal flashings;
-its exposed concrete at columns and floor plates;
-the strip windows and glazed curtain walls;
-the aluminum window frames and stainless steel parapet railings;
The manner in which the Aquacourt reinforces the present character of Radium Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park in its dramatic mountain hot springs setting and as a major landmark.