TORONTO – The opening today of a new Welcome Centre at Laurentian University completes a multi-year campus modernization project designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects. Seven buildings were revitalized and new connections added between them in a $63-million renewal of the mid-20th century campus in Sudbury, Ontario.
“This Welcome Centre is the next step in the evolution of this campus and institution to provide space that will support the next generation of student life on campus,” said Gary McCluskie, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
The Welcome Centre is located in what was originally an open-air breezeway that separated the Parker Building and Dining hall. Subsequent additions enclosed the space, which has now been re-opened to create a three-storey atrium beneath a raised roof with clerestory glazing that fills the space with natural light.
“This central interior gathering space facilitates orientation and access to student services,” added Sydney Browne, Principal with the design firm. “The warm, wood-lined atrium has informal study and social spaces with stepped seating for campus events and gatherings.”
The Welcome Centre also serves as a new campus front door with a landscaped commons at its entry. The commons provide a clear point of arrival and a re-graded paved route provides a barrier-free point of access for those arriving by public transit or private vehicles.
Adjacent to the Welcome Centre entrance is the newly constructed Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre. Its unique round-room gathering space signifies an important and visible presence of Indigenous peoples at the University. Other elements of the modernization include a new Executive Learning Centre, a University Club, renovations to 60 classrooms and laboratories, a completely updated marché in the dining hall and a revitalized Alphonse Raymond Building in which curtain wall glazing replaced existing concrete walls to create a light-filled, animated space for student gathering. In all, the modernization program encompasses 23,000 square meters (approx. 250,000 sq ft) of classroom, research, study and public space.
“This is Laurentian’s biggest renovation and expansion program since its establishment in the 1960s and it is inspiring to see our students now experiencing the benefits from this massive undertaking,” said Pierre Zundel, Laurentian University’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor.
Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) has offices in Vancouver, Toronto and New York City. Informed by urbanism, driven by design, the firm’s extensive portfolio includes performing arts centres, residential, recreational and commercial buildings, research and academic facilities. Current projects include the Canada Science and Technology Museum Collection and Conservation Centre in Ottawa; Robarts Common at the University of Toronto; and the design for David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The firm is currently shortlisted for the UK Holocaust Memorial and the Centre for Music, the new concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra.