- Client:Wilfrid Laurier University
- Engineer Structural:VanBoxmeer & Stranges Engineering Ltd.
- Engineer Mechanical:Smith + Andersen
- Engineer Electrical:Smith + Andersen
- Engineer Civil:MTE Consultants Inc.
- Interiors:Diamond Schmitt Architects
- Contractor:Bondfield Construction Company Limited
- Leed And Sustainable Design:WSP (formerly MMM / Enermodal)
- Theatre:Theatre Consultants Collaborative
- Audio Visual:Engineering Harmonics
- Specification:Brian Ballantyne Specifications
Text description provided by the architects. Lazaridis Hall is the new home of the School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. The building also houses the Department of Mathematics and a center for entrepreneurship and social innovation.
The design brief was to craft a highly sustainable building and to support the development of academic and community leaders with management and economics skills for a complex and changing global environment.
The design response is a flexible facility that serves a variety of functions, including academic program delivery, faculty and administration offices, gathering and peer learning areas to serve the entire campus, a multi-purpose auditorium and a seasonal conference agenda. To satisfy the demands of the growing technology focus in the region – Waterloo is the heart of Canada’s technology triangle – the building serves as a state-of-the-art incubator to promote collaborative research between the university and community.
The building is designed as a landmark to create identity and to signal expansion of a new campus precinct. Curvilinear wood-lined volumes define large spaces at either end of the building and disrupt the rigor of the stratified orthogonal façade. These are given further emphasis by the significant cantilevered space above the 1000-seat elliptical auditorium and positioning the 300-seat lecture hall in a double-stacked drum that appears to ‘float’ above a glass-encased café.
These moves express an effortless simplicity that belie the underlying complexity of this hybrid steel and concrete building. A syncopation of charcoal grey zinc panels furthers the volumetric deconstruction of this large building to contextually fit into the community. These considerations allow for a fully expressive, multi-featured design to achieve the client’s many objectives.
Woven into the site topography is a continuous ground plane linking the exterior and interior with ramps, stairs and seating plinths. A continuation of building shape, materials and palette further supports this inviting and seamless transition. At the center is a large wood-lined atrium, a crossroads around which a generosity and variety of spaces are immediately apparent. This public square is bathed in natural light beneath an undulating freeform skylight that reinforces themes of transparency and connectivity to create an engaging space in which to gather and learn.
Informal study lounge space and breakout rooms interspersed around the atrium on all levels are designed to facilitate the sort of informal exchange that supports peer learning and collaboration. A range of educational settings includes active learning classrooms to support new pedagogies. A mix of academic offices (240) and classrooms throughout create adjacencies designed to break down silos and facilitate encounter. Expansive hallways with moveable furnishings and nooks further enhance the opportunity for interaction.
The large 140ft x 70ft structural glass and steel freeform skylight creates a light-infused space in the atrium at the heart of Lazaridis Hall. This efficient, lightweight structure contains an undulating architecturally exposed triangulated steel frame that allowed for minimal customization, supporting economy, prefabrication, ease of installation and an elegant design solution. The skylight is calibrated to maximize sky views and through the use of 40 percent surface fritting and high-performance low-e coatings, a comfortable interior is achieved without glare or solar gain. From design through construction, this feature was realized through Building Information Modelling (BIM), as was the entire building.
Lazaridis Hall reframes this inward-looking campus and enlivens the streetscape to create a new urbanity and profile. The building bridges the physical divide from the main campus with a fully glazed ground floor that conveys a sense of openness and accessibility.
The building targets LEED Gold and the 2030 Challenge through comprehensive and fully integrated systems that make this an exemplar of sustainable design on a large scale.