Newmarket Operations Centre / RDH Architects

© Tom Arban

Municipal operations centers rarely attract attention from architects or the public, but the maintenance of our physical environment and infrastructure is critical to the well-being of any community. The design of the Newmarket Operations Centre aims to celebrate these services through the creation of a new local landmark while meeting complex technical requirements in a robust and economical structure. The project embodies a pragmatic rethinking of the municipal operations center and sets a new national standard for the design of this under-appreciated building type.

Architect: RDH Architects
Location: Newmarket, , Canada
Project Area: 6,100 sqm
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Tom Arban

© Tom Arban

The site is a former brownfield overlooking a major entry-point into Newmarket. The main building consolidates three municipal departments and includes offices, meeting and training spaces, and facilities for the storage, repair and washing of vehicles and equipment. The eleven hectare site also includes parking, a works yard, outdoor materials storage, a salt and sand shed and a greenhouse.

site plan

A one-story change in grade is exploited to minimize cut and fill while ensuring a secure separation between public access at the upper level and the works yard below. A 4.2 m high gabion basket retaining wall defines the public parking area and a landscaped extension of the building’s green roof, creating the illusion, when viewed from the north, of two distinct structures.


The project is conceived as a linear sequence of parallel programmatic bars alternating in character and height. The public atrium and fleet work areas are grand halls flooded with daylight, while all other spaces are arranged within the lower interstitial volumes. The resulting crenellated building section provides natural locations for recessed mechanical roofs (hidden from exterior view with perforated metal windscreens) and the accessible green roof. A single circulation spine threads together all spaces and allows for secure checkpoints between public, administrative and fleet areas, many of which operate at different hours.

© Tom Arban

The atrium is surrounded by offices, green exterior space, meeting and training rooms and a cafeteria, and serves as the arrival and social space for all visitors and staff. The grand stair doubles as an informal amphitheater for morning muster.


The three large fleet work areas are served by twenty overhead bifold doors, all clad in double glazed curtain wall. In the summer months these doors can be left open throughout the day to create a seamless indoor/outdoor work space. The suspended galvanized wire mesh ceiling prevents birds from nesting within the roof structure.


The Operations Centre project is expected to achieve LEED Silver status. Green strategies include geothermal heating and cooling, solar heating of domestic hot water, charging stations for electric vehicles, a reflective membrane roof, the collection of rainwater to irrigate the green roof, and naturalized vegetation at the site perimeter.

© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban
© Tom Arban

Project Team: Bob Goyeche, Tony Lopes, Scott Wilson, Geoff Miller, Carlos Tavares
Structural Consultant: Halsall Associates Limited
Civil Consultant: A.M. Canderas Associates Inc.
Mechanical and Electrical Consultant: Jain and Associates
Sustainability Consultant: Global Commissioning
Landscape Architect: NAK Design Group

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Newmarket Operations Centre / RDH Architects" 27 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Lance Moore

    I really enjoy the outcome of the project. I enjoy the permeable like qualities the building takes on allowing natural light to visually expand the space beyond its defined envelope. Unlike the road blocks and heavy machinery with attention craving yellow and orange that normally disrupting your daily commute. These tools retreat to a calm almost surreal womb disappearing from view behind a less obtrusive veil. Good Job RDH! (MrCotain)

  • Booh

    From the first image I was thinking: wow. this has got to be the worst post on Archdaily in months… but… I… was wrong: Its actually quite amazing, I wish every building had details like this one. A great example of designing for a client thats afraid of a bold facade: but an architect able to still design something quite impressive.

  • JB

    I have a problem with the first statement, that municipal buildings rarely get architects interest. At the turn of the century some of Canada/America’s finest pieces of architectural work were municipal buildings. Yes there were not done by the ‘starkitects’ of the time, but they were none the less some of the finest pieces of craftsmanship.
    Many of municipalities today are pushing for ‘example’ pieces of architect that can stimulate an area around an infrastructural facility.