University of Waterloo, Engineering Five Building
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Square Footage: 150,000
2011, WAN Interiors + Design Lighting Award: Lighting Project Category
2011, IES Illumination Award: Toronto Section
2011, American School and University Education Interiors Showcase: Outstanding Design Award
2011, IIDA Global Excellence Awards: Best of Category, Cultural/ Institutional/ Educational
The Engineering Five Building marks the first phase of a major expansion to the Faculty of Engineering and a dramatic new showcase for its innovative work. The 150,000 square foot (13,940 square meter) building consolidates previously dispersed departments with departmental labs, classrooms and offices above a two story Student Design Center (SDC). Conceived as a creative incubator that would draw researchers, faculty and undergraduate students together around the building’s public spaces including a six story atrium with a unique LED-lit feature stair that unites the various levels and ties into the social gathering spaces for each of the departments. Transparency and overlook promote a shared experience and a culture of collaboration.
The design response creates a highly flexible armature which accommodated planning and program changes well into the construction phase while ensuring flexibility for the future. A universal structural bay, a modular skin, centralized service spines, and a demountable partition system were all used to facilitate adaptation. The unique curtain wall skin and a series of dramatic public spaces create a signature architecture about which an intellectual community can form and grow.
At the heart of the building is the Student Design Center (SDC) as well as a highly sculptural feature stair. The SDC is conceived as a “daylight factory” where instructional space and design studios overlook high concrete framed work bays and shops supporting the fabrication and display of student projects. The LED-lit stair serves as a social mixer, designed to promote pedestrian movement between floors and the interaction of students and faculties. Visible from the exterior, this abstract sculptural presence is a fitting expression of the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration.