ARIDO Award Winner: Niagara College Welland Student Commons

Surrounded by the natural beauty of Ontario’s escarpment, Niagara College is a rural community college focused on applied arts and technology. Our firm was asked to augment the college’s 1970s-era Welland Campus by creating a Student Commons — a 35,000 square foot two-storey hub with enhanced amenities that establishes a welcoming heart for the student community.

Category: LEARN

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects

Photographer: Scott Norsworthy

Since its inception in 1967, there have been many iterations in the evolution of the Welland Campus, creating an unnavigable building cluster, connected by dark corridors. The creation of the Student Commons provided an opportunity to create a social hub that rationalizes the building layout, establishes a new, north-facing entrance to campus, enhances branding and wayfinding, and enables natural light and external views to uplift the daily student experience.

We developed numerous iterations of the building addition to offer users the most meaningful connection to other campus facilities (including the Student Services Administration Centre and Library and Learning Commons), transit, and the surrounding landscape.

Retail and lounge space accommodate the majority of the first floor, and have the greatest connection to transit and landscape as the most occupied program components of the Student Commons. The multi-functional event space is connected to the student lounge area, complementing the “buzz” of activity that takes place in the lounge. More focused learning and meeting space is located on the second floor of the Commons, offering users a quieter space for concentrated work.

The double-height addition breathes life into the campus with a new welcome centre, a food court and retail space, new classrooms, a student activity room, and spaces for learning, study, and collaboration. As the Student Commons is only one of two dedicated student spaces on campus, we designed numerous amenities and program areas to encourage varied experiences and social interaction.

The lantern-like addition is carefully sited to provide easy links to transit and student services, while providing the college with an alternative entrance and clear drop-off zone. A tall soffit canopy clad in cedar spills into the building, acting as passive wayfinding – drawing visitors to the main entry. Iron spot brick adds warmth and anchors the entry corridor to the main student space. Curved, perforated metal panels are a welcoming gesture that also hide the campus’ main shipping and receiving zone. The panels read ‘Niagara College Canada’ and provide a bold backdrop for the new exterior plaza, giving all students and visitors a sense of place and point of pride.

The Student Commons brings order and cohesion to a campus that has evolved slowly over time, making connection to three different buildings built over 50 years. The addition branches off the existing campus building, seamlessly connecting to the existing corridor system and coherently linking all adjacent buildings. This was achieved by demolishing some existing corridors, responding to differences in floor elevations, and adding environmental graphics to direct users from nearby spaces. As a centrally located social hub, the Student Commons provides a larger area where students and faculty can dine, socialize and study, creating a sense of hierarchy and order within a formerly fractured building.

Playful details reinvigorate the campus’ visual identity, including custom-designed pendant lights shaped like X’s and O’s, whimsical circular LED lights that break up the ceiling, and large-scale supergraphics that are visible from inside and outside the building. The oversized lettering, chevrons, and dots applied to the Commons’ fully glazed expanse give the college an instantly recognizable brand.

The addition of extensive glazing and a mirrored clerestory opens the Student Commons to natural light and external views of the surrounding Niagara Escarpment. Floor-to-ceiling curtainwall glazing draws daylight inside and creates views to the outdoors, while also giving passerby glimpses of student activity within. High above the food hall, a stream of clerestory mirrors reflect additional daylight into the soaring, spacious corridor, ensuring the space is bright and airy all year round.

One of the most successful and dynamic aspects of the project is the connection of the addition to the existing building. We forged links to the existing building by creating a central corridor that connects to campus amenities, including lecture theatres, student services, and a grab-and-go coffee counter. The corridor extends from the depths of the building, and through the addition to the new, north facing entrance. The creation of this main thoroughfare brings in natural light and unites formerly separate spaces within the existing building cluster.

We incorporated the existing clerestory windows above the food hall into the new design, but optimized the design to generate additional light. We installed mirrors surrounding the clerestory, which reflect the natural light and further brighten the interior space. The mirrors also reflect the strong horizontal banding of the windows for an interesting visual effect. Surrounding the clerestory, we introduced a cedar lined ceiling for additional warmth.

We fashioned perforated screening to hide the existing shipping and receiving dock from view. The screen is used as an opportunity to give additional presence to the new, north-facing entrance to campus. To further mark the entrance and inject the college brand, the perforated screen is engraved with the words “Niagara College Canada.” The branded screen is so successful that students often take photos in front of it to capture their time at the college.

The Student Commons also provides vital links to key services that support an inclusive college community, including the Indigenous Student Centre, Multi-Faith Prayer Room, and Segal International Centre. The Indigenous Student Centre is dedicated to enhancing Indigenous student success by offering space for activities including smudging, cooking traditional meals, water blessing, and drum circles. The Segal International Centre is designed to accommodate Niagara College’s growing international enrolment, with services for admissions, housing, financial aid, and English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. We also designed a Multi-Faith Prayer Room for Niagara College to accommodate the religious practices of its staff and students, with a quiet, dedicated space to practice faith on campus.

The renovation and addition supports the Government of Ontario’s commitment to improve the accessibility of buildings and facilities, and work diligently to ensure that our designs meet current standards for barrier free design. We designed barrier-free washrooms to serve people with mobility issues, and gender-neutral washrooms to create an inclusive environment for all genders.

The Student Commons fills a critical need for an accessible and inclusive space to cultivate community and create memorable on-campus experiences.

Project Details:

Project Location: Welland, ON
Project Completion Date: October 2018
Project Square Footage: 35,000 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: St. Francis Xavier University – Brian Mulroney Institute of Government

The new Brian Mulroney Institute of Government is a dynamic nexus of academic and social life on the highly picturesque St. Francis Xavier University campus. The 88,460 SF building features flexible and modern learning spaces, large tiered classrooms, a 300-person auditorium, administrative offices and meeting spaces, exhibition spaces, and an open atrium fondly named “The Forum”.

Category: LEARN

Interior Designers: Chen Cohen, ARIDO; Kayley Mullings, ARIDO
Design Firm: Moriyama & Teshima Architects
Joint Venture: Barrie and Langille Architects Ltd.

Photographer: Riley Snelling

The grand, warm, and inviting Lobby space provides direct access to the main artery of the building, aptly named “Scholar’s Walk”. A truly unique aspect of this academic building is the incorporation of exhibition spaces, including a replica of Mr. Mulroney’s Office during his tenure as Prime Minister, as well as various exhibit spaces highlighting the former Prime Minister’s career.

St. Francis Xavier University, founded 1853, is located in the beautiful and historic town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia and is one of Canada’s oldest universities. The setting is a picturesque hillside site with historic academic buildings forming the heart of the campus. Through the vision and aspirations of both the University and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, $52 million dollars were raised to help establish this dynamic epicentre of academic and social life.

With Mulroney Hall – Brian Mulroney Institute of Government aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders in Canadian policy, politics, social and planetary leadership, and to establish a tangible relation between the study and practice of government. The newly established Institute combines and augments existing programs and departments on campus into a synergistic academic and research body.

The first challenge that presented itself was the need for a new approach to academic learning environments. Most of the University’s buildings were quite dated and lacked flexible, agile learning spaces that would support the diverse needs of students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, and perhaps the most unique challenge to the project, was the need to design and incorporate exhibit spaces that would highlight the former Prime Minister’s career in a cohesive and thoughtful manner throughout the building.

The new building integrates itself into the existing topography and establishes a strong relationship with the campus’ adjacent main library. Endowed with wonderful, elevated vantage points across the Lower Campus, the Western edge of the building is assigned the most prominent public/social programmed space in the Institute, named “the Forum”.

As a major new student destination on campus, the Forum acts as a “campus living room” linking the school’s Upper and Lower Campus zones. The dynamic, double-height space benefits from beautiful views, natural light, and acts as the hub for the University. The space provides various settings for both socializing and learning through the use of modular flexible soft-seating arrangements, large communal tables that support technology, and quiet student touch-down spaces that allow for contemplative work. The Forum also has the ability to entirely transform into a large town hall space for important events and functions.

Overall, the planning for the building results in a very simple and intuitive layout that allows users to easily navigate the various spaces within the facility. The north lobby connects users through a main circulation artery and was specifically designed to showcase exhibition pods so that users of the building or individuals that traverse through Mulroney Hall on their way to an adjacent building have opportunities to access the exhibition spaces.

Bright and varied learning spaces include lecture halls, labs, active learning classrooms, and most importantly, informal social spaces that support collaboration and synergy. Given the rapid pace of change in learning environments, future proofing strategies such as standardization, modularity, flexibility, and generous circulation routes that can allow spaces to be reconfigured both in short and long term as pedagogy, programs, and technology change shaped the approach to all of the classrooms. Technology was also introduced in strategic ways so that students have ample access to power and content sharing which also contributed to the success of the University supporting online and hybrid learning during the pandemic.

Beyond introducing technology support within the classrooms, the building incorporated inclusive strategies for both students and faculty. Height adjustable tables and teaching lecterns are present in each classroom, faculty offices were designed for ease of movement with height adjustable desks and common serveries are accessible. Universal washrooms and lactation rooms are located throughout the building. To support the culturally and diverse needs of the university body, a multi-faith prayer room with fully accessible ablution room is located near the Forum – the main hub of the building.

Lastly, the incorporation of the exhibit spaces were key in guiding users throughout the building while highlighting an important narrative and history of the former Prime Minister’s story from early childhood, to his time at St. Francis Xavier University, and through his political life. The exhibition spaces are dispersed throughout Mulroney Hall which allows for visitors to immerse themselves in stories, artifacts, images and speeches related to Mr. Mulroney’s early years at St. Francis Xavier University and his career as Prime Minister. These exhibits are located on all four levels and are a mix of traditional and technological installations. The second floor showcases a replica Prime Minister’s office of oak paneled walls, and donated furnishings from the 1980s to allow students and visitors a glimpse of a space seldom seen first-hand.

St. Francis Xavier University recognizes that they are stronger as an academic institution when they honour everyone’s differences. Valuing and promoting equity, diversity and inclusion creates a campus community and supports the needs and aspirations of their students, faculty and staff. Honouring the differences that are both visible (e.g., physical ability, gender expression, age) and less visible (e.g., cognitive, culture, ancestry) and include different world views and experiences is key in creating an inclusive, welcoming, and safe learning environment.

An understanding of the needs of all users – equitable access to various student touch-down and collaboration areas, universal and barrier-free washrooms, lactation rooms, quiet rooms for users needing respite, a multi-faith room with ablution spaces for cultural and religious practices, and accessible classrooms that enhance the learning and teaching environment for both students and faculty.

Continuous dialogue between the interior design and architecture teams, along with the mechanical and electrical engineers resulted in a cohesive design that was developed and optimized through the energy modelling for the building in targeting LEED Gold energy efficiency targets. The interior materials and finishes were also strategically selected to help reduce the building’s environmental impact through the selection of low-emitting and local materials.

Careful planning and design yielded a learning environment that equally supports the diversity, safety, accessibility, health, and future needs of the University.

Project Details:

Project Location: Antigonish, NS
Project Completion Date: September 2019
Project Square Footage: 88,460 square feet

ARIDO Award Winner: Centre for Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship

Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) showcases Seneca’s commitment to entrepreneurial innovation as well as a sustainable vision for the future inspired by an Indigenous worldview. The design, which evolved through extensive consultation with Seneca’s executive leadership, academic stakeholders, and The Aboriginal College Council, brings together applied research, commercialization, specialized training, and an entrepreneurial incubator for both students and industry leaders.

Category: LEARN

Interior Designer: Janine Grossmann, ARIDO
Design Firm: Perkins&Will
Design Team: Tsvetelina Rabashki, ARIDO; Martha del Junco, ARIDO

Photographer: Doublespace Photography

The schedule for this project was accelerated with programming, design, and construction completed in just 30 months. However, the inteirior design team needed to develop a nimble concept that would support hi-tech labs and workshops as well as softer spaces to support collaboration and ideation. Adaptability was key for the future as well as for inevitable changes during a fast-tracked design and construction project.

Students, faculty, the Indigenous council and community, college leadership and industry partners were all involved with the planning process. This close collaboration yielded an interdisciplinary interpretive program, “The Manifesto for Making” that employs architectural elements, integrated artwork, and large-scale graphics to communicate the importance of an Indigenous worldview to shape a sustainable future.

The building’s focus on academic STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programs is balanced with expression of Seneca’s commitment to recognizing Indigenous history and vibrant living culture in Canada. Two clear zones were established, a forward facing gallery that features complex finishes and details, which could be delivered later if necessary, and second, a highly modular and rational planning container for the core program spaces. The modular bays of the building feature exposed services, demountable partitions, and simple robust finishes that support adaptation and heavy use.

As the design evolved, senior administration began to realize the prominence of the site and the opportunities it presented. The mandate for the project expanded to include event space and event support to be integrated into what would be known as the Innovation Gallery.

The Innovation Gallery, an animated atrium space supporting collaboration, displays, and events, creates a new, vibrant presence for the College on Toronto’s busy Finch Avenue corridor. Connecting a set of flexible, modular spaces that house digital fabrication suites, high-tech labs, and flexible classrooms, CITE also offers a state-of-the-art workplace for Seneca’s administrative departments.

The Innovation Gallery engages the sloping topography of the site with a gently terracing ground floor that provides accessible platforms at three levels for day-to-day student lounge and study space, and convert to display platforms or events spaces as needed. It also provides a display and event space, from which industry sponsored high-tech fabrication spaces can be viewed.

The site also includes Seneca’s incubator, Helix, bringing industry, community, and students together to develop and launch new business ventures. The lab and classroom wing is adjacent to a series of light filled student lounges that facilitate breakout sessions and group work between classes and which organize CITE into a series of collaborative neighbourhoods.

The building is conceived as a universal container of modular space for teaching, learning, and making that are connected by a linear atrium on the building’s south edge—the Innovation Gallery. The modular bays of the building feature exposed services, demountable partitions, and simple, robust finishes that support adaptation and heavy use. The relatively large footprint of the lab and classroom wing is relieved by a series of light-filled student lounges that facilitate breakouts sessions and group work between classes.

Spaces for gathering, socializing, and food distribution throughout the building creates a welcoming environment, with warmth and team spirit. Clear and logical organization of wayfinding assists students and visitors find spaces with ease throughout the building. Robust natural light in learning and collaboration environments throughout the building create an uplifting spirit with strong use of colour, art, graphics, and visibility. Gender neutral washrooms, integration of Indigenous culture into the experience of building, clear pathways and ramps embed accessible, inclusive design into the building.

Under guidance from the school’s Indigenous Education Council (IEC) several architectural elements were designed to tell Indigenous stories within a contemporary architectural framework. 13 columns reflect the Anishnabe lunar cycle, three program containers evoke birchbark “memory chests”, and a series of integrated artworks feature the living culture of Seneca’s Indigenous community including the award-winning terrazzo medallion called the “Circle of Indigenous Knowledge” designed by Indigenous artist Joseph Sagaj.

The project’s sustainability strategies include an advanced selection process of materials for innovative levels of regional and recycled content, with a focus on health and wellness of occupants that considered use of low emitting materials, ample access to daylight, increased use of FSC wood finishes to lower embodied carbon, and design phase parametric analysis to optimize design and lower energy use. Low flow and flush fixtures are installed, achieving a potable water savings of 40%.

Outdoors, native and adaptive plants are utilized for the landscaping, drastically reducing any potential need for potable water. A cistern collects rainwater which is then used as cooling tower make up and the balance for landscape irrigation when needed. Seneca is pursuing LEED Gold certification for the CITE project with a focus on conservation, waste reduction, energy and climate change, transportation, water, and green building practices and operations.

Project Details:

Project Location: Toronto, ON
Project Completion Date: December 2018
Project Square Footage: 275,230 square feet

What We Really Do: Drawings Edition

Sure, you need drawings for a renovation (or maybe you didn’t know that?), but what are they really?

Drawings are an opportunity to try out the design and work out the kinks in a project before it’s built.

There I said it. Shortest blog ever!

Ok, ok, so maybe you have some follow-up questions to that. If you didn’t know you needed drawings to do a renovation (assuming you don’t need a permit- because we’re not going to entertain the idea that you’re passing up the opportunity to protect your biggest investment– for some of you literally- to save a bit of time or money). “But my brother did a renovation and his contractor did the renovation without hiring a designer and it worked out fine.”

Let me ask you some follow-up questions for your brother: Did everything come out right the first time? Did it come out exactly as he had expected? Even better one: How many times did he get a call from the contractor to make a decision or come show them how he wanted something done?

Hmm. So maybe didn’t come out as well as we’d all like? This is not the contractor’s fault. Read that over again, please. They are not clairvoyant, nor are they typically trained in any way to be a decorator or designer, or interior designer. This means someone needs to tell them how they want things, and if no one writes any of that down, it needs to ALL be conveyed in person, which is a LOT of time. You might already know this if you’ve DIY-d a renovation without some kind of professional help.

So maybe these drawing things are starting to make more sense?

I can tell the best contractors immediately when I meet them and we discuss construction drawings and how we do them at Sanura Design (and how a Registered Interior Designer is trained to do them, period). We usually bond over having to construct something with no drawings and some gestures or being asked to help design a space with the clients when it isn’t what they signed up for.

So what’s our special sauce? It’s actually really simple if a lot of hard work and experience.

We document everything. I’m not exaggerating in the least- a master bathroom project might have 7 drawings attached to it. That sounds like a lot, but it’s amazing for the contractor (and honestly if I wanted to spend most of my day on a job site, I would have become a contractor)- they know exactly what tiles we’re putting in where, how the tiles are laid out, where the plumbing fixtures are going, where to install the bathroom accessories, all the details of the custom millwork, where to hang the mirror, what lighting fixtures are going in and exactly where to install them, and the list goes on!.

An example of how detailed our bathroom drawings are above- we draw the actual tile layouts to any difficulties with installation or tile size can be discovered in advance

Imagine how easy it is to price a project when you know exactly what’s going in- and typically this means better pricing for the homeowner. You know exactly how much your project will cost before anything is ordered and anything is demolished or constructed.

Remember when I said drawings allow Interior Designers to test out ideas and work out the kinks in advance? They also allow us to change the scope of work/design to suit your budget better without wasting time and money during the construction process. Drawings also enable us to collaborate with contractors during the design process to get budgetary feedback and their expertise.

So hopefully you’re coming around. Congratulations! Now you’re well informed enough to decide if you need to hire an interior designer or if you’re happier doing this yourself. That’s always my goal!

And if you just decided you’d rather not take on the full-time job of managing and designing your own renovation, you know where to find us!


Toronto’s Albion Library turns the page on dated institutional design

With a vibrant façade and a warm, light-filled interior, this revitalized Toronto Public Library branch is one for the books. Albion Library is much more than a place to house reading material. Located in Toronto’s Rexdale neighbourhood, the library functions as a social epicentre for the surrounding community. Albion Library provides a broad range of services for a diverse demographic, including many recent immigrants, in one of Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. 

Interior Designer(s): Joanne D’Silva

Design Firm: Perkins and Will

Photographer: Doublespace; Rodrigo Chavez; Toronto Public Library Staff

When we took on the project, it was apparent that the branch required a major upgrade. The ageing building (which dated back to 1971) was run-down and far from meeting the community’s growing needs. Our design solution needed to address deficiencies in the existing building and the community’s concerns around inclusivity, accessibility, wayfinding, public safety, and access to light and nature. 

While our initial plan called for an addition to the existing branch, community consultation quickly revealed that the proposed two-year closure would negatively impact the Rexdale community. In response, our design team worked with Toronto Public Library to develop a different approach. Designing a new library on the adjacent, underutilized parking lot allowed the existing facility to remain open during construction. When the new library opened, the pre-existing library was demolished and a multipurpose urban plaza for community events, markets, and visitor parking was created in its place.

Programmatically, Albion offers neighbours and patrons a wide range of services that go far beyond lending books. The library serves the surrounding area by facilitating programs related to cultural orientation, social integration, and employment skills (as well as providing access to technology and knowledge). For the Toronto Public Library, success is measured by the degree to which they can meet and respond to the changing and unique needs of their communities while innovating their services. As a space that puts users first, Albion Library has become a place of transition for newcomers and a haven for the community at large.

Inspired by the aspirations of the community, we used the concept of a walled garden to address the need for a safe space and respite from the car-dominated context. A coloured scrim of terracotta ribs wraps the building, evoking a garden in bloom and mirroring the diversity of the community. The scrim lifts to articulate the entry, creating a colourful and dynamic form that ushers visitors inside the cheerful space. The building also includes three landscaped courtyards which subdivide the large 2,694 square meter plan into distinct program zones, providing acoustic separation and the programming of different activities. 

Internally, the library is dominated by a folding timber roof that slopes towards the courtyards. The warmth of the wood structure plays off the lush texture of the courtyards—which are visible from every corner of the building. The neutral backdrop (cultivated, in part, by dark carpet and white oak millwork) highlights colourful and playful furniture items, light fixtures, and a striking mural by Jacob Hashimoto at the front service desk. High-level sustainable design features include a rooftop photovoltaic array, sloping green roof, daylight harvesting, and the selection of healthy materials. Occupant well-being is supported by proximity to nature and abundant access to light and views. 

We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Rexdale community as they venture into this new chapter at Albion Library. 

The medicine wheel is a motif in the design of this Health Centre

The Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre is a hospital built in Sioux Lookout in 2012, and serves a population spread over a large geographical area. Health Centre clients come from 29 First Nations communities spread across Northern Ontario, as well as Sioux Lookout, where there is a non‐Indigenous population with its own rich culture.

Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre
Interior Designer: Taeko Rhodes, ARIDO
Design Team: Ena Kenny, ARIDO
Design Firm: Stantec Architecture
Project Joint Venture: Douglas Cardinal, Douglas Cardinal Architect Inc
Project Photographer: Richard Johnson

Menoyawin is an Anishinaabe word that connotes health, wellness, well-being and individual spiritual, mental, emotional and physical wholeness.

With a First Nations associate architect guiding the design team, many important aspects of Indigenous culture were incorporated in the planning and design of the facility. The principal concept behind the master plan was a circular path, 350 meters in diameter, cut through the forest and providing access to each building on the campus.

This path is a representation of the Medicine Wheel, a concept shared by many Indigenous cultures, that signifies the importance of appreciation and respecting the interconnectedness and interrelatedness of all things.

Within that framework, the objective of the interior design of the facility was to create an integrated healing environment, that would blend First Nations culture with the surrounding environment. Symbols of the primordial elements, earth, fire, air and water, are represented throughout the whole centre.

Tall timber columns and beams welcome everyone into the health centre with a large octagonal skylight at the centre.

The main gathering space is a heavy timber structure, oriented east, towards sunrise. Sunlight fills the space through a large octagonal skylight, and below, a central ‘fireplace’ built in tempered glass, lit with LEDs, and circled by red pipestone. A traditional sunburst pattern, created in epoxy terrazzo circles the pipestone on the ground, while a black granite waterfall next to the recalls an element that is vital to all living things, and provides a soft burbling sound.

A Ceremonial Room was built for First Nations ceremonies and healing and repeats the important wheel shape, with an actual earth firepit, bordered by natural stone and walls clad in cedar.

Cedar lines the walls and floors of the octagonal ceremonial room with an earth firepit at its centre.

The canoe‐shaped Ambulatory Lobby is built in structural timber with a clerestory window, flooding the space with natural light, while underfoot, a flooring pattern suggests the movement of water.

Throughout the inpatient wing, long walls of windows provide views to a series of landscaped courtyards, further reducing the institutional image. The circular pattern of the Medicine Wheel is also present in the cubicle curtains and floor pattern throughout the hospital as a metaphor of healing.

Landscaped interior courtyard with winding paved paths, and rock and evergreen gardens.

By incorporating symbols from Indigenous culture like the Medicine Wheel and the four elements into the design, the hospital resonates with patients and the greater community as a healing place. The architecture and the interior design successfully bridge the gaps between Indigenous and non‐native cultures.

1 SLMHC Website

Quantum mechanics inspires the redesign of this U of T Lab

The first and second floors of the McLennan Physical Laboratories were alienating, institutional spaces, harshly lit with overhead fluorescents. In the classrooms, students sat crowded along long tables; the setup was so inefficient the department was turning away 100 students from a popular course each term, due to lack of space. The space needed to introduce the greater university population to the physics community and showcase science education in the best possible way.

Interior Designer: Valerie Gow, ARIDO
Design Firm: Gow Hastings Architects
Photographer: Tom Arban

The interior design team responded with a complete reimagining of the space, incorporating the latest in collaborative technologies, styled in a sleek new visual identity that, topically, draws from quantum physics. In crafting its visual identity, the design team was inspired by the Davisson-Germer’s experiment, which confirmed that particles of matter can have wave-like properties – a major advancement in the development of quantum mechanics.

In its new form, the McLennan Physical Laboratories project becomes a hive of activity, and a site for greater student engagement. Visually, the vivid colour palette, in a previously monochromatic environment, has become strong brand marker for the department.

At the heart of the new space is the Physics Cafe – a vibrant work/study area with a multi-use video wall, full-height writable wall surfaces, and a felt-wrapped column for posting notices. A feature ceiling below the existing exposed concrete gives the space a more intimate feel. Oversized ottomans can be moved into clusters or rolled away for breakout discussions. Acoustic drywall, rubber flooring, and plaster ceiling tiles all dampen sound for a quieter study environment. Vertical bands of transparent coloured film add a liveliness to the space, while providing privacy for students at work; and are inspired by the particle wave interference of the Davisson-Germer experiment.

New teaching labs facilitate collaborative learning with informal breakout spaces, smart boards, and writable wall surfaces – all encouraging student interaction. A foldable partition allows a classroom to expand and contract as needed, while Corian surfaces ensure durability. The waiting and study spaces that line the corridors now feature seating alcoves for individual students or small groups. Plug-in points for charging devices help make this a good spot to stay and work; pin boards and well-lit chalkboards encourage the sharing of ideas and information.

Innovative thinking, collective curiosity and freewheeling experimentation are the foundation of this new building at Sheridan College

The design concept for this campus expansion was grounded in the belief that learning and creativity flourish in open and inspiring spaces that encourage investigation and collaboration beyond the traditional classroom.

Interior Designer: Chen Cohen, ARIDO

Design Firm: Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Photographer: Shai Gil

Housing Sheridan College’s Sustainable Built Environment Department (Architecture, Interior Design, Interior Decorating and Visual Merchandising), the Hazel McCallion Campus focuses its attention on the essential qualities of great collaborative spaces. These include natural light, connection to nature and views, warmth of material, comfortable scale and access to technology.

A grand orange stair ascends five stories from the ground level, drawing students and staff through the open spaces of the first two floors, toward specialized programming on the upper levels. Students and staff are invited to choose from a variety of spaces imbued with these qualities, which welcome exploration and showcase learning.

Interestingly, the facility is designed as a ‘Living Laboratory’ where the building itself can be used as a teaching tool. As a demonstration project, the building takes a “whole-system” sustainability approach, where the mechanical systems, flooring and concrete access panels are left exposed in some classrooms, and options for furniture, A/V and IT can adapt to changing needs over time.

The design also encourages the longevity and sustainability of the space through the use of environmentally friendly finishes like carpet tile made of 80% recycled material, rapidly renewable bamboo flooring, quartz and solid surfacing that features recycled glass, Algonquin limestone from Owen Sound, among other materials. Educational signage throughout the building highlights these sustainable qualities of the materials, in order to reiterate the mission of the facility.