Announcements 04.22.2020

Amit Chakma Engineering Building Achieves LEED Platinum Certification

Designed by Perkins and Will in close collaboration with Faculty, students, and staff, and in conjunction with local architects Cornerstone Architecture, the Amit Chakma Engineering Building creates space for showcasing innovation and encourages community.

The Amit Chakma Engineering Building, a technologically innovative, high-performance, and student-focused engineering building at Western University, has achieved LEED Platinum certification from the Canadian Green Building Association (CaGBC). Designed by our Toronto studio, the facility is the first LEED Platinum building for Western University and the third academic building in Canada to achieve the certification.

A New Front Door for the Faculty of Engineering

The facility is one of the first buildings developed at the edge of Western’s campus. The location introduces a bold, urban presence for the Faculty of Engineering and expands a programmatic relationship between the Faculty of Engineering and the Ivey School of Business located across Western Road.

An Experiential Learning Environment

Transforming the engineering experience at Western University, the Amit Chakma Engineering Building creates dynamic, experiential learning environments that foster interdisciplinary collaboration and community.

“From a planning and program stacking perspective, we gave careful consideration to the connective tissue to optimize the opportunity for creative collisions,” says Andrew Frontini, principal and design director at Perkins and Will. “Corridors, stairs, landings, and lobbies within the building are places of exchange, education, and exhibition. We also created intuitive connections to the adjacent Spencer and Thompson buildings so that the Engineering Faculty is unified by a thread of animated public space.”

Engineering work is on display throughout the building. Glazed research labs and classrooms are showcased to the adjacent corridors, allowing student work to be seen and experienced throughout the building.

Labs and classrooms for civil, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering courses supporting interdisciplinary research, collaboration, and applied learning offer versatility. Flexible furniture solutions allow academic spaces to be efficiently re-configured.
The Atrium is the educational, social, and cultural heart of the building.

A Hub for Community

A bright three-story atrium connects the Amit Chakma Engineering Building to the Spencer Engineering Building and provides space for students and faculty to socialize, collaborate, and connect for events, exhibitions, and celebrations.

“The main conceptual driver for the facility’s program organization was enhancing the student experience and identity for the Engineering Faculty, and therefore strengthening community,” says Safdar Abidi, principal and higher education leader at Perkins and Will.

The atrium is an educational and social space to celebrate the Faculty’s culture through events, outreach, and celebrations. The atrium periphery is programmed with social and active spaces that open up to it, activate it, and help make it a dynamic hub for student engagement.

Circulation space is generous and utilized as social or collaboration space in areas like the corridor along the west façade which features work surfaces adjacent to glazing introducing access to daylight and views. Interior glazing is used for classrooms and labs along corridors and complemented by skylights to allow daylight penetration deep into the floor plate.

“Spaces like the second floor in the Amit Chakma Engineering Building have done more to build community than any other building. Impromptu signs about events and locations, open meetings, and presence have made the facility a footing in lifelong learning across years and disciplines.”
— Darren Meister, John M. Thompson Chair in Engineering Leadership and Innovation and Associate Professor of General Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) at the Ivey Business School

Energy Use Reduction and Efficiency

The Amit Chakma Engineering Building has a thermally robust envelope to decrease energy usage and optimize passive heating and cooling. A 30:70 glazing to solid wall ratio informs a strategic approach to locating glazed areas adjacent to social and active programs. In place of blinds, a combination of self-shading Electrochromatic glass as well as external fritted glass fins allow daylight into spaces, yet minimizes glare and solar gain allowing daylight to penetrate.

Daylight and occupancy sensors achieve a reduced lighting power density and metering of individual system such as lighting, cooling, heating, general power, to ensure consumption is not exceeded.

A solar PV array system is installed on the majority of the building’s roof to help offset its electrical demands.

Water Use Reduction and Conservation

To maximize the building’s water efficiency, an underground cistern collects and reuses grey water. A swale along the front of the building at Western Road and a 36,000 litre cistern reduces water consumption through a stormwater catchment and reuse system and diverts it to flush fixtures.

The building itself is a display for sustainability features, innovation, and engineering accomplishments. The truss structure that supports the 30-foot south cantilever highlighted on the building’s west and south elevations is a main feature of its exterior expression and provides a sheltered forecourt.

Local, Healthy Materials

Low-emitting materials and finishes create a healthier indoor environment and a more productive and creative workplace. Use of local materials includes regionally sourced steel as well as Canadian Maple for doors, cabinetry and acoustic wrapping in the atrium, and limestone quarried from Wiarton, Ontario which double as biophilic features.

A Sustainable Public Realm

The enhanced public realm features a covered forecourt shaded by cantilevers at the building’s south end to welcome students arriving by bus, foot, or nearby parking lot. Bike racks are also provided in the south forecourt. Plantings and trees, natural wood and concrete site furniture provide comfort and respite. These elements provide a comfortable outdoor space for gathering, socializing, and building student community.