Humber College Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation

Toronto, Ontario
Setting a New Caliber for Campus Architecture

Designed to connect students, community and industry partners in an environment that supports entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship, the Barrett Centre for Technology Innovation (BCTI) is the flagship facility for Humber College’s Applied Research and Innovation program. Through its radical program, signature architectural expression, and cutting-edge performance the building establishes a new focal point for student life at Humber, creates a gateway onto the College’s north campus, and celebrates the unique identity and growing reputation of applied research at Humber.

The BCTI creates a new campus gateway-a new beacon and hub of community for the rapidly growing campus-aligned with the existing and new transit infrastructure.
A Building that Inspires

The experience of the BCTI begins the moment one steps off of the bus onto campus. From here, the building presents itself as a dramatic new portal through its dynamic prismatic glazed lobby and gravity defying cantilevered form establishing a new focal point for student life.

“For students, the Centre will be a game changer, working on multiple projects with different partners within the Centre links what they’re doing here with the careers ahead of them. It instills confidence as well as skills.”

― Darren Lawless, Dean of Applied Research and Innovation, Humber College

Part of the Larger Campus Network

The BCTI participates at a broader social and urban level in shaping a dynamic new public place for both users of the building and the campus as a whole. Extensive analysis was carried out as part of the design to ensure that the building’s public spaces accommodate the large influxes of people associated with the new transit infrastructure and that the building seamlessly connects to the larger pedestrian circulation system in supporting a greater clarity of way-finding.

The south façade of the building is defined by a carefully articulated zinc skin with bris soleils, motorized operable windows and optimized 40% window/wall ratio. A rain garden along this edge provides one of many sustainable demonstration features of the project.
A dramatic cantilevered series of mezzanine spaces define the main lobby with integrated seating areas and adjoining project demonstration spaces.
Collision of Ideas

The main atrium, which acts as the entry to the building and campus, becomes a place to meet, work, and socialize – a generous and exciting space for the BCTI community and the public to share ideas, showcase new products, and explore new technologies. Overlooking this space, a range of collaborative facilities enable interaction and exchange between disciplines, while on the top floor, residential suites allow industry advisors from around the world to live on-site while working with project teams.

A multi-disciplinary research facility where students work interactively with industry partners set in the heart of one of Ontario’s largest polytechnic Colleges.
Generous transparency along the central spine of the building invite views into the various project rooms and makerspaces. Open ceilings allow ease of access to the various systems of the building for maximum flexibility.
Modular and Flexible Learning Spaces

The BCTI encourages learning outside the classroom by omitting classrooms entirely. Instead, flexible project modules provide space for students, faculty and industry partners to research, fabricate and explore together. Supported by fabrication and technical zones, these modules are equipped with flexible power, data and pneumatics, movable partitions, ubiquitous technology, and embedded meeting rooms and storage areas, making the building into a dynamic learning warehouse that can be easily re-configured to serve a range of project types and scales.

Typical makerspace with flexible exposed ceiling grid.
A convertible demonstration space with sliding partitions opens seamlessly onto the adjacent lobby.
Photo Credit Joe Markovic
Embodying Sustainability

The Net Zero Energy and LEED Platinum design incorporates sustainability, reflecting Humber’s values. Green rooftop teaching spaces, urban agriculture pods, and a high-performance building envelope that is put on display making sustainability part of the curriculum.

Project Team

Duff Balmer
Jan-Willem Gritters
Zeina Elali
Safdar Abidi