Text description provided by the architects. Triffo Hall represents the rebirth of South Lab, one of the oldest buildings at the University of Alberta, originally constructed in 1915. The historic two storey structure is composed of two bays with a unique saw-tooth roof configuration, providing an abundance of natural light through two north-facing clerestories. A new program provides office space, meeting rooms and a laboratory for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research and The Graduate Students’ Association. The design is structured around a two storey interior street which runs the length of the building and is flooded by natural light due to a series of punctures through the second floor. A daylit environment results, one that is implicitly connected to the original masonry and steel structure. Throughout the building, program elements are accommodated within a variety of spaces ranging from loft-like open areas to enclosed offices, all connected to natural light.
The variation of daylight in both distribution and quality of light is explored throughout the design. Open workstations areas benefit from high performance windows along the perimeter as well as the north facing clerestory. Perimeter windows are clear vision units each with operable components for natural ventilation. Clerestories admit a diffuse light through a multi-walled polycarbonate panel while achieving a very high thermal performance. Interior offices and small meeting rooms located in the north bay of the second level receive natural light through exterior windows, clerestory and neighboring spaces through glass panels inset into the structural truss. The large interior meeting room on the second level derives natural light from the clerestory and exterior windows indirectly, both as borrowed light from adjacent circulation space and also diffused through the channel glass. Channel glass is also used in an exterior application to signal the new entry and to form a softly glowing element at night. The redevelopment of the entry asserts a renewed presence for the building and occupants, reinvigorating a previously under-utilized and unnoticed building on campus.
The renovation of Triffo Hall is a significant project as it not only saves a building from demolition – for which it was slated at least twice – but also implements sustainable design strategies within an historic structure. The approach to renovation was one of revealing the existing structure while improving building performance. In keeping with this strategy, all existing mechanical and electrical systems were demolished and layers of applied materials removed, taking the building back to the original masonry, steel and concrete structure.
The redevelopment breathes new life into a historic structure as a model for sustainable renovations. Sustainable design strategies include reuse of an existing historic structure, maximum use of daylighting, minimum application of additional materials, capture and re-use of rainwater, and high performance heating & cooling strategies. Triffo Hall is both the first LEED® registered and certified project on campus with the recent award of LEED® Gold and also the oldest structure in Canada to be awarded Gold within the LEED® NC rating system.