School of Pharmacy / Hariri Pontarini Architects

© Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

Architect: Hariri Pontarini Architects
Location: Kitchener, Ontario,
Partner in Charge: Siamak Hariri
Budget: $36M
Project size: 183,000 sf
Year: 2008
Photographs: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio / Tom Arban, Tom Arban Photography

The University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy was designed and built to not only provide a suitable learning environment for students and faculty, but to also act as a catalyst for its immediate community, as well as presenting the city of Kitchener with a distinct landmark.

© Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

A public and private partnership between the city of Kitchener and University of Waterloo, formed in 2003, created an opportunity for the city to offer the land and funding and subsequently obtain a facility that would offer an imperative education, pharmaceutical services to the community and would also present a landmark on the urban landscape. The result is a hybrid of school and clinic that sets an important precedent for future developments in this realm. As such, the project incorporates a rich program, mixing faculty and student laboratories, lecture and seminar rooms, an auditorium, an herbarium, a family clinic, and a commercial pharmacy.

© Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

Designed around a series of interactive spaces, the building encourages collaboration and dynamic interaction between students and faculty. The enclosed courtyard and central fireplace gathering space allows for the relaxed exchange of ideas, while the herbarium and medicinal garden are designed to encourage a more broad and holistic approach to the subject matter itself.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "School of Pharmacy / Hariri Pontarini Architects" 25 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Steve

    The facade is horrendous. While the building is laid out and executed well, the exterior is completely contrary to its surroundings. Completely disjointed from the buildings around it. Really a shame, it looked much better on paper.

    • Oliver

      The building plan is effective and flows nicely. The detailing and materiality inside is generally above average for this part of the world.
      And I appreciate the referential playful exterior. Who says architectural embellishment can’t be literal and playful. Good on them for having the guts to do it.
      As far as the surroundings and blending in is concerned. The surroundings are standard industrial junk that is no longer relevant and about to be gentrified.

  • Rich


  • T

    Nice Try with the facade – but Failed !!!

  • ygogolak

    I like the facade. Similar affect as the National Library in Paris by Chipperfield.

  • James

    Initially, as a local resident, I too was a bit curious about the aesthetics of the buildings facade. Since its completion (and as someone who sees the building nearly everyday), I’ve grown to appreciate its unique character. I believe that, with so much new development happening in Kitchener’s downtown core, this building will surely establish itself within its surroundings.