North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

Under the guiding principle that “movement is life,” Mitchell Jensen Architects Inc. and Carlyle Design Associates recently completed the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. The 150-person, 58,000-sq.-ft. facility works to promote health and prepare for emergency situations in 31 municipalities across northern Ontario — leading to a carefully designed building that promotes ease of accessibility and circulation for employees and the public alike.

Movement is expressed by curved lines connecting the interior to landscape, dynamic lighting and articulated by rhythmic elements such as the Douglas Fir curtain wall along the street façade, which curves within to embrace the waiting area. (Photos by: Lisa Logan)

Visitors enter the rectangular building through a two-storey lobby where a clinic, classroom, teaching kitchen, water testing station, family room and meeting room reside. Nearby, private work quarters blend lounges for social interaction with quiet meeting spaces, offices and light-filled workstations. Milestone markers, visual cues and expansive windows help people move from the lobby towards these areas along different spines. “It’s very easy to find your way around the building,” says Paul Mitchell, principal at Mitchell Jensen Architects. “We downplayed signage and focused on creating a coherent space where users can easily understand where they are inside the building and in relation to the world outside.”

On the exterior, the building sits on a brownfield site that is centrally located in downtown North Bay in order to best serve clients from different parts of town. Nearby bike routes and pedestrian paths contribute to active transportation to and from the Health Unit, whereas easy access to Lake Nipissing and outdoor recreation areas keep within the facility’s objective to promote healthy lifestyles.

Expansive glazing and views of landscape help to calm stress and to aid wayfinding, and is further reinforced by materials including abundant wood and natural stone, particularly in the transparent two-story lobby.

Along the street façade, a Douglas fir curtain wall signals a creative venture for the architects. “It’s a new product for us,” says Mitchell. “It’s a proprietary system that uses glue-laminated timber instead of aluminum to support the glazing of the curtain wall system.” A rough-cut Adair limestone wall in the lobby complements this natural exterior, and is paired with porcelain tile floors, granite and concrete stairs, teakwood benches and white oak accents throughout.

Finally, at the heart of the facility, the design seeks to inspire ownership and pride. “I’m a firm believer that quality public buildings are a great reflection of a healthy community, and I hope community members embrace this one as their own,” says Mitchell. From its movement to its materials, the facility is committed to promoting and advancing the health of the community it serves.


Adair Limestone Marble: Ariscraft International Inc.

Lifestyle Porcelain Tile: Marazzi Group

Carpet Tile: Interface

Wood Veneer Panel System: Parlex

Aluminum Curtainwall Glazing: Alumicor

Wood Curtainwall: iC2 Technologies

Acoustic Ceiling Tile: Armstrong

“Ring” Lights: Beta-Calco Inc.

Zinc Panels: Rheinzinc

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