Contract - Centennial College Library and Academic Facility

design - features - education design



Centennial College Library and Academic Facility

13 March, 2012

-By Murrye Bernard


Centennial College is diverse in more ways than one: its flagship campus is located in the highly multicultural Toronto neighborhood of Scarborough, and the community college’s enrollment includes almost 60 percent of students born outside of Canada. However, Centennial’s campus aesthetic does not exactly reflect this, nor roll out the welcome mat with its primarily low-profile, 1970s Neo Brutalist–style concrete structures.

Centennial has put a new face forward thanks to a library and academic facility, designed by Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects, that provides a warm and welcoming contrast to the existing buildings. Clad in textured brick and shiny copper, the structure anchors the edge of—and establishes a new gateway to—Centennial’s campus, gaining visibility from the nearby 16-lane Highway 401. More importantly, it is a light-filled central meeting place for the students and faculty, and offers a variety of study spaces outfitted with technologies that support a new way of learning.

At 104,000 square feet, the four-story building is spacious, but its design is straightforward and open in a way that immediately orients visitors. “It’s a very simple plan that is legible,” says Donald Schmitt, a founding principal of Diamond and Schmitt. “When people are oriented in a building, they have a sense of comfort, safety, and wellbeing, and that’s enormously important for a college student,” particularly those adjusting to life in a new country. The building is massed in three rectangular bars that stagger slightly in section. The outer sections house classrooms, administrative offices, and the library, while the central space is a full-height atrium. On the north façade where the library is situated, sawtooth-like glass projections form “light scoops,” folding at the roof edge to become skylights that allow light to penetrate all the way into the atrium.

Atrium as oasis
The atrium is the heart of the building, both socially and functionally, as it forms the central circulation spine. Students gather with friends at tables or settle into upholstered seating on upper-level balconies—prime perches for people watching. The elevations of the atrium were developed as intricately as building façades, featuring patterns of custom mahogany-slat screens and solid mahogany panels. Some of the panels contain acoustic insulation, and in combination with fabric-wrapped ceiling panels that span between skylights, acoustic comfort is maintained despite the vast size and height of the atrium.

The focal point of this “oasis,” as Schmitt describes the atrium, is a four-story bio-filter living wall. The system, which contributes towards the building’s targeted LEED® Gold certification, is integrated into its air filtration system and removes 80 percent of airborne contaminants, including off-gassing from building materials and computer equipment. The technology behind the living wall was originally developed for use in space stations, but 10 years ago Diamond and Schmitt Architects pioneered the first commercial installation in Ontario’s University of Guelph at Humber College, in collaboration with biologist Dr. Alan Darlington and his company, Nedlaw Living Walls.

Technology in multiple forms
Technology integration is prevalent throughout the building. Classrooms are outfitted with distance learning and video conferencing capabilities, as well as smart boards, and the auditorium accommodates translation services. Technology is not always so visible, and ever-present WiFi allows students to untether. “The architects have really helped us put together an excellent blend of the more traditional aspects of libraries, along with all of the spaces required to support e-learning and mobile technology,” says Gladys Watson, director of Centennial College Libraries.

Students can choose from among 250 different types of study spaces, ranging from collaborative areas on the first floor to silent study rooms and carrels on the third floor, as well as glass-enclosed group rooms on the fourth floor overlooking the atrium. Lounge seating is tucked into many corners throughout the building. “Students want to learn while lying on their backs, sitting casually, surfing the net, or while talking to their friends, and the configuration of the building has to support all of those different poses,” acknowledges Schmitt. The students also have the opportunity to observe the teachers in the act of instructing. Dubbed the “fish bowl,” a third-floor glass-enclosed space accommodates faculty training programs.

“Traditionally, libraries were warehouses for books and academic buildings were all about the classroom and the functional allocation of space,” says Schmitt. The newest building on Centennial’s campus, filled with natural light and a bevy of comfortable seating configurations, demonstrates the paradigm shift of modern libraries and academic facilities. It is as much a place to reconnect with friends as it is a retreat for study. What it is not? A good place to catch a nap, thanks to all the invigorating oxygen pumping out of the living wall.

Key Design Highlights
  • The building’s straightforward layout immediately orients visitors and makes members of this diverse student body feel welcome.
  • The school embraces the belief that each student learns in unique ways by offering over 250 different types of study spaces, from lounge-like areas to more traditional options.
  • Daylight penetrates 75 percent of the floor plate through windows and skylights.
  • A four-story bio-filter living wall lends lushness to the central atrium while filtering the air of most contaminates.

Centennial College Library and Academic Facility
Designer Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc.
Client Centennial College
Where Toronto, Canada
What 104,000 total square feet on four floors
Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request




Centennial College Library and Academic Facility

13 March, 2012


Tom Arban

Centennial College is diverse in more ways than one: its flagship campus is located in the highly multicultural Toronto neighborhood of Scarborough, and the community college’s enrollment includes almost 60 percent of students born outside of Canada. However, Centennial’s campus aesthetic does not exactly reflect this, nor roll out the welcome mat with its primarily low-profile, 1970s Neo Brutalist–style concrete structures.

Centennial has put a new face forward thanks to a library and academic facility, designed by Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects, that provides a warm and welcoming contrast to the existing buildings. Clad in textured brick and shiny copper, the structure anchors the edge of—and establishes a new gateway to—Centennial’s campus, gaining visibility from the nearby 16-lane Highway 401. More importantly, it is a light-filled central meeting place for the students and faculty, and offers a variety of study spaces outfitted with technologies that support a new way of learning.

At 104,000 square feet, the four-story building is spacious, but its design is straightforward and open in a way that immediately orients visitors. “It’s a very simple plan that is legible,” says Donald Schmitt, a founding principal of Diamond and Schmitt. “When people are oriented in a building, they have a sense of comfort, safety, and wellbeing, and that’s enormously important for a college student,” particularly those adjusting to life in a new country. The building is massed in three rectangular bars that stagger slightly in section. The outer sections house classrooms, administrative offices, and the library, while the central space is a full-height atrium. On the north façade where the library is situated, sawtooth-like glass projections form “light scoops,” folding at the roof edge to become skylights that allow light to penetrate all the way into the atrium.

Atrium as oasis
The atrium is the heart of the building, both socially and functionally, as it forms the central circulation spine. Students gather with friends at tables or settle into upholstered seating on upper-level balconies—prime perches for people watching. The elevations of the atrium were developed as intricately as building façades, featuring patterns of custom mahogany-slat screens and solid mahogany panels. Some of the panels contain acoustic insulation, and in combination with fabric-wrapped ceiling panels that span between skylights, acoustic comfort is maintained despite the vast size and height of the atrium.

The focal point of this “oasis,” as Schmitt describes the atrium, is a four-story bio-filter living wall. The system, which contributes towards the building’s targeted LEED® Gold certification, is integrated into its air filtration system and removes 80 percent of airborne contaminants, including off-gassing from building materials and computer equipment. The technology behind the living wall was originally developed for use in space stations, but 10 years ago Diamond and Schmitt Architects pioneered the first commercial installation in Ontario’s University of Guelph at Humber College, in collaboration with biologist Dr. Alan Darlington and his company, Nedlaw Living Walls.

Technology in multiple forms
Technology integration is prevalent throughout the building. Classrooms are outfitted with distance learning and video conferencing capabilities, as well as smart boards, and the auditorium accommodates translation services. Technology is not always so visible, and ever-present WiFi allows students to untether. “The architects have really helped us put together an excellent blend of the more traditional aspects of libraries, along with all of the spaces required to support e-learning and mobile technology,” says Gladys Watson, director of Centennial College Libraries.

Students can choose from among 250 different types of study spaces, ranging from collaborative areas on the first floor to silent study rooms and carrels on the third floor, as well as glass-enclosed group rooms on the fourth floor overlooking the atrium. Lounge seating is tucked into many corners throughout the building. “Students want to learn while lying on their backs, sitting casually, surfing the net, or while talking to their friends, and the configuration of the building has to support all of those different poses,” acknowledges Schmitt. The students also have the opportunity to observe the teachers in the act of instructing. Dubbed the “fish bowl,” a third-floor glass-enclosed space accommodates faculty training programs.

“Traditionally, libraries were warehouses for books and academic buildings were all about the classroom and the functional allocation of space,” says Schmitt. The newest building on Centennial’s campus, filled with natural light and a bevy of comfortable seating configurations, demonstrates the paradigm shift of modern libraries and academic facilities. It is as much a place to reconnect with friends as it is a retreat for study. What it is not? A good place to catch a nap, thanks to all the invigorating oxygen pumping out of the living wall.

Key Design Highlights
  • The building’s straightforward layout immediately orients visitors and makes members of this diverse student body feel welcome.
  • The school embraces the belief that each student learns in unique ways by offering over 250 different types of study spaces, from lounge-like areas to more traditional options.
  • Daylight penetrates 75 percent of the floor plate through windows and skylights.
  • A four-story bio-filter living wall lends lushness to the central atrium while filtering the air of most contaminates.

Centennial College Library and Academic Facility
Designer Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc.
Client Centennial College
Where Toronto, Canada
What 104,000 total square feet on four floors
Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request

 


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