Sault College Academic Building / Architects Tillmann Ruth Robinson

© Shai Gil

Architects: Architects Tillmann Ruth Robinson – Scott Robinson
Location: 443 Northern Avenue, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,
Completion: March 2011
Project Size: 75,000 sq. ft.
Cost: $21,000,00
Collaborators: Design build project with EPOH; associate architects and Ellis Don; construction firm
Client: Sault College Academic Building
Photographs: Shai Gil


© Shai Gil

For the first time in decades, Sault College has embarked on the construction of a new campus building. From project start, the College had a clear idea of the role of the new Academic Wing in the physical, economic and social transformation of the campus. Given the highly visible location, the new building is both an iconic campus gateway and a precedent for future building, open and public spaces, movement and land use. The nbsp;result is a strong physical environment that speaks to the life/learning experience of staff and students, as well as the financial and strategic goals of the College.

Besides housing the core components of this75,000sqft academic building, including a new entry and exhibition hall, 17 state-of-the-art classrooms, aviation and natural resource laboratories, a 100 seat lecture hall, 8,000sqft. of interactive learning commons and administrative spaces, the new Academic Wing also provides much needed formal and informal social spaces and gathering places that promote causal sharing of ideas and boundary-crossing.

© Shai Gil

As the fastest growing College in Ontario, Sault College understands the value of design in competing for the best and brightest minds. The modern, leading-edge facility shows a physical commitment to the surrounding community; more importantly, it sends a strong message that Sault College is ready to invest heavily on its most important resource – its staff and students.

Located to take advantage of the major traffic route on Northern Drive, the building is positioned as far north on the campus as possible to ensure visibility and create generously landscaped spaces between existing buildings. This strategic position speaks to the importance of the facility’s identity as the new front door to the campus.

© Shai Gil

The materials used throughout are symbolic of the ‘rugged beauty’ of the surrounding geography and landscape. A sensitive blend of modern and traditional expression is achieved by mixing natural stone and wood with more contemporary materials of curtain wall and prefinished metal panels. The palette of materials utilized resonates with both the neighbours and students and serves to establish a much needed and legible vocabulary for the campus.

The design communicates forward looking architecture, signaling the College’s new direction and its desire to radically transform the image of the campus. Dramatic forms respond to this vision expressing the building’s program and guiding design principles, whereas the creative use of light, transparency, and connectivity form an energetic and dynamic environment where new ideas can flourish. These new academic spaces, not found elsewhere on campus, encourage interaction, nourish staff, and actively participate in the academic success of students.

plan 01

In addition to the functional requirements for site planning, the orientation of the building and internal program determined the final window locations; resulting in over 90% of the occupied rooms in the building receiving natural sunlight. An important attribute particularly in northern climates, additional day-lighting strategies that were introducedto reduce the need for artificial lighting include; occupancy sensors, daylight sensors and multiple lighting levels and dimming capabilities, utilized throughout.

Interior finalities include durable low-maintenance; low-emitting finishes for carpet, paint, laminates, adhesives and sealants. High performance air handling units, in-floor radiant heat, and energy efficient fixtures maximize life-cycle performance.

plan 02

The energy of this project is contagious. The building has been warmly embraced by both students and staff and is quickly replacing people’s recollection of the “old Sault Campus.” The College has adopted this project as a precursor of things to come, showcasing in the process, their marketing and recruitment strategy to attract faculty, staff, and increase enrolment. Projections for the fall term are approximately 2,100 students, which is an overall enrolment increase of 26 per cent.

The aim of this exciting, iconic structure and campus gateway is not about leaving a legacy; rather, it represents a new turning point for the institution. The “new Sault College” confidently announces the progressive and forward thinking mission of the administration to the surrounding community, the province, and beyond.

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Sault College Academic Building / Architects Tillmann Ruth Robinson" 10 Apr 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
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  • Cassie Amond

    This is truly a beautiful building! I’ve been in it and I wish it was there when I went to the college. Could I ask permission to use some of the photos for local Sault Ste. Marie advertisements? Email me for details of where we would like to use them or with contact with the owner of the images. THANK YOU!