Ivory Towers: 9 cool and contemporary college buildings in Canada

Blame Harvard – university architecture has long been associated with centuries-old brick buildings, darkened libraries and ivy-covered walls.

But the latest crop of buildings sprouting up on Canadian campuses don’t mimic age-old, Old World colleges. We’ve put together a list of some of the most daring specimens of academic buildings, recently built or currently under construction. Enjoy!

Faculty of Law at Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, British Columbia

Thompson_Rivers_U._Law_School

Photo: Diamond Schmitt Architects

Thompson Rivers Old Main

Photo: Thompson Rivers University/Flickr

Thompson Rivers University Law

Photo: Thompson Rivers University/Flickr

The first new law school to open in Canada in 30 years officially launched in July 2014. The Faculty of Law is a mix of old and new: the structure is actually a two-storey addition and revitalization of an existing campus building known as the Old Main. Diamond Schmitt Architects were behind the design of the 45,000-square foot space, which was inspired by the Mount Paul painting by Group of Seven artist, A. Y. Jackson.

Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence, Algonquin College, Ottawa

Algonquin College Construction

Algonquin College Construction Excellence

Algonquin College Diamond Schmitt

Photos: Diamond Schmitt

Algonquin-College-ACCE

Photo: Algonquin College

The LEED Platinum building opened its doors in 2011 and is known as a living laboratory thanks to the 64,600-square-foot vegetative “ribbon,” which is made up of a park, garden spaces, green roof and a bio-filter wall. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in collaboration with Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates Architects, the centre has racked up a number of awards including the SCUP/AIA-CAE Award for Excellence in Architecture and the Canadian Green Building Council Award for sustainable design.

Durham College Student Services, Oshawa, Ontario

durham college teeple

Photo: Teeple/Architects

Acting as an entry point to Durham College, the Student Services building takes college life to dramatic new heights. The building was designed by Teeple Architects and completed in 2010.

Centre for Arts and Culture at McEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta

Macewan arts centre edmonton

East_fascade_MacEwan Centre Edmonton

MacEwan Arts Centre Atrium

Images: MacEwan University

Bing Thom Macewan Arts Centre

Image: Bing Thom Architects

In spring 2014, Bing Thom Architects unveiled the designs for the centre, which feature wavy walls meant to call the mind the folds of a stage curtain. The structure will house a proscenium theatre, a recital hall, a black-box theatre, galleries and a wide range of visual arts, digital and sound studios. Aspiring to LEED Silver certification, the building should be finished by 2016.

Student Learning Centre, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario

student centre ryerson uni

ryerson university student learning centre

ryerson student centre Images: Ryerson University

Currently under construction, the Student Centre was designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto in collaboration Snøhetta of Oslo, Norway and New York City. An eight-storey structure on one of Toronto’s main thoroughfares, the space will feature an accessible entry plaza and connect the corner of Yonge and Gould Street.

Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario

Mike-and-Ophelia-Lazaridis-Quantum-Nano-Centre

Photo: Shipandreceive/Wikicommons

Nano Centre Waterloo

Photo: Jon/Flickr

Quantum Nano Centre Waterloo

Photo: University of Waterloo

The two-building facility with a distinctive, honey-comb shaped facade is shared between the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology. KPMG Architects was behind the design, which also features a six-storey atrium at its heart, a space with a network of floating stairs and “mind spaces” for meeting up. Completed in 2012, the space won an award of excellence for its engineering.

Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

1 Spadina Daniels

1 Spadina UofT

1 Spadina Daniels Architecture UofT

Images: Adamson Associates

Currently under construction, the revamp of the architecture school consists of two overlapping stages that feature the existing 19th century structure known as 1 Spadina as well as the new extension to the north. Designed by Nader Tehrani, principal of the internationally acclaimed firm NADAAA, with Adamson Architects acting as the Executive Architect, the facility should be completed by 2015. It will also house the Global Cities Institute, a new research hub.

Sait Polytechnic Parkade, Calgary, Alberta

SAIT Parkade

SAIT Parkade Calgary

SAIT Polytech Calgary

SAIT Polytech Parkade

Photos: Bing Thom Architects

Proof that parking garages can be pretty, the three-level parkade features a green roof with playing field. Designed by Bing Thom Architects and Marshall Tittemore Architects, the semi-perforated metal screens on the outside allow for natural light and ventilation inside and also doubles as giant art piece. Completed in 2009, the structure received an Award of Excellence from the Prairie Design Awards.

Welcome Centre, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario

University of Windsor

Welcome Centre University Windsor

Welcome Centre Uni Windsor

Images: University of Windsor

Hariri Pontarini Architects and Architecttura Inc. were tapped to build the gateway to the campus. The 18,000-square foot building features an arcing, white glass exterior that’s also semi-transparent, offering visitors 360-degree views of the campus from inside. The centre’s completion date is set for 2015.

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