Dedicated to sustainable,
high performance building

Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre

Form and materials promote ecological responsibility

Located in the St. Vital district of south central Winnipeg, the Barbara Mitchell Family Resource Centre is a building with a clear sense of purpose. In an area with more than its fair share of social challenges, the Centre serves a multicultural community of about 4,000, a mainly aboriginal and immigrant population. Through this building The Salvation Army provides social support, recreational activities, and training programs for families, children, at-risk youth, marginalized groups, newcomers to Canada, and war-affected refugees.



The two-storey, 1,031 m2 building includes a gymnasium, an oversized community ‘living room’, a daycare and administration areas, as well as classrooms and meeting rooms for its various in-house and outreach activities.

In addition to its social mission, the Salvation Army also promotes environmental stewardship in its building projects, striving to balance its global ecological responsibilities with its activities in local communities. Thus it supported the idea of an integrated design process and the creation of a BIM model, that enabled the design team to perform various types of comparative analysis including a full life cycle assessment of building materials and components.

The new facility is located on a brownfield site, opposite an existing community park. The design team positioned the building’s community spaces and exterior courtyard to face the park and so encourage its greater use. Existing trees were retained to protect against the prevailing winter winds, while new indigenous landscaping has reduced the area of hard surface and minimized storm water run-off and soil erosion.

Efficiency and flexibility were primary drivers of the design, both to minimize capital cost and operating energy by reducing the overall area of the building. Washrooms and mechanical services are located in a central core, with open concept meeting, teaching and support spaces arranged around the perimeter to maximize the opportunities for natural light and ventilation.
The two-storey gymnasium also has a dual purpose, being used as a multi-denominational worship space for the Centre’s different faith communities.

Window-to-wall ratios are optimized for daylight and energy performance according to orientation, with an overall ratio of 32%. The South facade has the largest amounts of glazing to allow for passive solar heat gain in the winter months, while large roof overhangs help to prevent over heating in the summer months. Operable windows and two-storey volumes permit the building to be cooled through natural ventilation during the warmer part of the year.

The building envelope is designed with thermal resistance values of R-24 for the walls and R-42 for the roof. Windows are argon-filled double or triple-glazed units with customized low emissivity coatings according to orientation. The windows have an overall average U-value of 1.6.

The Centre is heated and cooled with rooftop units having an 80% operating efficiency, variable speed fans, heat recovery, CO2 monitors and DDC controls. The lighting system is primarily LED and fluorescent T-5 and T-8 fixtures. Occupancy sensors are installed in service areas.

  • Project Performance
  • – Energy intensity [building and process energy] = 994MJ/m2/year
  • – Energy intensity reduction relative to reference building under MNECB = 39%
  • – Potable water consumption from municipal sources = <1,500L/m2/year
  • – Potable water consumption reduction relative to model building = 37%
  • – Reclaimed and recycled materials by value = 11%
  • Materials
    Douglas fir glulam and masonry block structure with steel and wood studs, Douglas fir stained horizontal 1×6 siding aluminum curtain wall, mineral wool insulation. Baltic birch interior panels stained and urethaned, Forbo Marmoleum flooring, LED and fluorescent T-5 and T-8 fixtures with occupancy sensors in service areas.
  • Project Credits
    Owner/Developer  The Salvation Army
    Architect  Richard Prins Architect + Affinity Architecture
    Mechanical/Electrical Engineer  MCW/AGE
    Structural Engineer  Wolfrom Engineering Ltd.
    Landscape Architect  Hildermann Thomas Frank Cram
    General Contractor  Crystal Construction
    Photos  Gerry Kopelow/photographics inc.

Richard Prins MAA, Architect AIBC is principal of Richard Prins Architect in Winnipeg.