Eight months away from an event that will bring athletes from 41 countries to the Toronto area, the Pan Am / Parapan American games facilities are getting ready to welcome the expected 250,000 visitors. The growing city of Markham will have its place in this historic moment for Ontario. Indeed, yesterday the $78.5 million, B+H Architects-designed Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre officially opened to the public with an impressive—and crowded—ceremony, as witnessed by one of our UrbanToronto team members.

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvilleAtos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre seen from the outside, picture by Jimmy Wu

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvilleAtos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre lobby, picture by Jimmy Wu

Sunday, November 23rd is a day to be remembered for Markham residents. Starting in the early afternoon, thousands of people gathered around the newly-built venue hoping to get a chance to attend the opening ceremonies.

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvilleThe olympic pool and its impressive 12.5 meter-high ceilings, picture by Jimmy Wu

It was also a chance to generally check out the new facilities which include a 3,345 sq. metre/36,000 sq. foot triple gymnasium featuring 12.5 meter-high ceilings, a 50-meter, 10-lane Olympic-sized swimming pool, and much more. 

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvilleA local gymnast performing during the opening ceremony, picture by Jimmy Wu

Quickly filled to capacity, the ceremonies began with the performance of a local gymnastic and cheerleading group, followed by a speech given by Canadian water-polo athlete Christine Robinson, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, the Games' CEO Saad Rafi, local MPP and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, Michael Chan, and Minister of State Bal Gosal amongst others.

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvilleOfficials getting ready to cut the ribbon, officially inaugurating the centre, picture by Jimmy Wu

The national anthem as well as traditional songs and dances performed by some members of the Native American community—which the Games will make a point of honour to showcase—preceded the countdown initiating the ribbon-cutting ceremony and photo-ops, before a last countdown marked the start of a free public swim session, ending the ceremonies.

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvilleThe venue is home to several sport facilities such as a fitness centre, picture by Jimmy Wu

During the Games the Markham venue, jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the City of Markham, will host badminton, water polo and table tennis competitions. This multi-use facility also features all-purpose rooms, meeting areas, and a two-level fitness centre. It will provide its 2.4-hectare property for community-use for the years to come, as clearly manifested in the large public plaza fronting the building. The gymnasium's high ceilings and the pool's variable floor and movable bulkheads dividing the basin into up to three different sections will also make it possible for the centre to be used for other international competitions in the future.

Atos Markham Pan Am / Parapan Am Centre, B+H Architects, UnionvillePachi, the official Toronto 2015 Games mascot was there too, picture by Jimmy Wu

Steps away from the sports-focused Bill Crothers Secondary School, Markham aims to become a athletic destination and foster a sport-minded spirit among its residents. Last but not least, the facility is adjacent to the Unionville GO Station, at the heart of the new and developing 243-acre Downtown Markham, future home to 15,000 Markhamites.

Additional information and renderings can be found in the project's dataBase file, linked below. If you want to get involved in the discussion, check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment using the space provided at the bottom of this page.