Durham College Centre for Food / Gow Hastings Architects

Durham College Centre for Food / Gow Hastings Architects
Courtesy of Gow Hastings Architects

Expected to be completed in September 2013, the Durham College Centre for Food will distinguish itself in the highly competitive field of culinary education by taking advantage of its rural setting on a large suburban campus in Whitby Ontario to narrate a story about the process of making a meal from “field to fork”. Designed by Gow Hastings Architects, students and visitors will journey through the inner workings of the school, showcasing food distribution rooms, a 150-seat lecture theatre, change rooms, faculty offices, classrooms and an array of hospitality and culinary labs that will circle a central atrium. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Literally and figuratively merged with the landscape, the building will grow from its surroundings, with a ramp that will rise from restored agricultural fields to the linear building’s second storey. This and the surrounding cropland will be planted with vegetables and herbs that will be used in the school’s culinary and hospitality programs, showcasing the school’s emphasis on regionalism, sustainability and wellness.

Courtesy of Gow Hastings Architects

Drawing users to the heart of the building, the atrium, with a two-storey living wall, will serve as a central meeting place and a venue for events and celebrations. In contrast to the clinical nature of most culinary institutions, the feeling will be warm and open. Windows will give passersby glimpses into the labs, encouraging exploration into other areas and establishing a dynamic energy within the building. The sequence of spaces will culminate on the second floor with a soaring 60-seat restaurant that will offer expansive views over the gardens and the campus. Its open kitchen will enable diners to see their food being prepared, and staff and students to observe how it is received. Highly visible to commuters on the Highway 401, the restaurant will entice the public with a welcome alternative to fast food, and at the same time give students practical hospitality experience.

site plan

Warm woods, indigenous stones and natural colours will further emphasize the building’s regionalism and connections to nature. On the exterior stainless steel detailing with underscore the interior culinary lab aesthetic. Marble, Corian, stainless steel and ceramic tile in the labs will reduce visual clutter, maintain sanitation and enhance function. The culinary labs stations will be on casters, enabling instructors to rearrange the rooms at will. Steel and glass foldable partitions on either side of the atrium allow the wine tasting lab and bake lab to open up onto the central atrium.

floor plans

Fritted and colored glazing on the south wall will minimize heat penetration, controlling the temperature and maximizing the energy efficiency of the HVAC systems. Light will be drawn from photovoltaic panels, and the building will be insulated by a green roof and topped by an apiary for honey production.


Providing students with a hands-on experience a strong relationship to the environment, Durham College’s Centre for Food will showcase the full cycle of food production to both the college and the general public in a fresh and vibrant building, evolving the design of culinary education facilities.

diagram 01

Architects: Gow Hastings Architects Location: 1610 Champlain Avenue, Whitby, Ontario, Canada Contractors: Garritano Brothers Limited Mechanical Consultants: MCW Consultants Limited Electrical Consultants: DEI and Associates Inc. Structural Consultants: Stephenson Engineering Limited Client: Durham College Site Area: 11.78 Ha Building size: 36,000 SF Project Delivery: Design Build Year of (estimated) Completion: September 2013

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Cite: Alison Furuto. "Durham College Centre for Food / Gow Hastings Architects" 25 Nov 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/295787/durham-college-centre-for-food-gow-hastings-architects> ISSN 0719-8884

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