North Campus

Physical Activity and Wellness Centre

In March 2010, the concept of the Physical Activity and Wellness Centre was approved by student referendum. The Centre is a partnership between the Students’ Union, Graduate Students Association, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, the Government of Alberta, and the Hanson and Wilson Family.

The project began with demolition in November 2012, which took six months to complete. The new facility was handed over to the University of Alberta in multiple phases. North Concourse on September 1, 2014, the Hanson Fitness and Lifestyle Centre on November 25, 2014 and the Wilson Climbing Centre on January 5, 2015.

Located on a prominent corner of the campus, the PAW Centre is a gateway showpiece for the university. In addition to the new building, existing buildings were renovated to accommodate new program space. The new and old buildings are connected by an atrium-like Social Street, incorporating student services to activate and energize a pedestrian thoroughfare that will serve as a major access point to the campus.

The PAW Centre is a collaboration between the Students' Union, Graduate Students' Association, the Faculty and the University of Alberta and has been designed to promote and foster the health and well-being of the campus community. The PAW Centre has already won an Award of Excellence, Canadian institute of Steel Construction 2015 Alberta Steel Designs of Excellence Competition. View the nomination video here.


Building features

  • PAW Centre, inclusive of all new and renovated areas is 17,000 square metres (183,000 square feet). 
  • First new fitness facility on North Campus since the Universiade Pavilion (Butterdome) opened in 1983.
  • Climbing Centre inclusive of both levels, is 780 square metres (8,395 square feet).
  • Climbing wall is 19.5 metres high
  • Fitness Centre, inclusive of both levels and exclusive of the Climbing Centre, is 2,554 square metres of space (27,500 square feet), an increase of 1,869 square metres from the previous space
  • Student Services area is 1,203 square metres of space
  • Social Street is 2,752 square metres of space

Hanson Fitness and Lifestyle Centre
  • New Fitness Centre is almost four times the size of the old Fitness Centre
  • $900,000 of new fitness equipment was added, a total of 175 new pieces.
  • Centre is open to students, faculty/staff, UofA Alumni, Van Vliet Complex Membership Card holders and Steadward Centre members and family. 
  • Offers an accredited fitness appraisal through the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, providing;
  • Certified exercise physiologists
  • Certified personal trainers
  • Certified strength and conditioning specialists 
  • Registered dietitian 

Wilson Climbing Centre
  • The climbing wall consists of versatile, modular climbing structures that are among the highest in the country
  • The Centre offers three types of climbing
  • Bouldering: over 30 metres of lateral wall space to a maximum height of 14 feet
  • Top-roping: 17 ropes on five separate climbing walls to a maximum height of 15 metres)
  • Lead climbing: 15 anchors on two of the main climbing structures
  • 42 high wall routes
  • 58 boulder problems
  • 7,700 hand holds
  • Centre is open to UofA students, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation academic, Recreation Services programming, drop-in, Youth Club/Jr Team, School groups, private lessons, events and competitions.

Sustainable features
  • Targeting a Green Globe rating of Four Globes (LEED Silver equivalent)
  • Natural daylight to create a healthier environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors
  • Use of natural, recycled, low-emitting healthy materials for building finishes
  • Control of solar loads through efficient shading (22 KW Solar PV Solar Shade) and high-performance glazing.
  • The glazing was upgraded from double to triple pane under the Energy Management Program. The high performance glazing contributes to reduced solar loading.
  • LED Lighting 
  • 90KW Solar Thermal Heating (placed on PAW Centre roof) for domestic water and pool
  • Drain heat recovery for showers