TORONTO – A unique facility for undergraduate engineering opened today at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning combines a new home for the undergraduate experiential learning facilities with engineering research in a building that functions as a living laboratory of sustainability.
The design showcases how sustainable technologies can work together to reduce the environmental footprint of the built form and provide a leading edge in advanced green technology and research. “Central to the project’s design is the concept that the operation and energy-use needs of the building will be a testing ground for an array of green energy-producing research equipment,” said Michael Szabo, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “The building is enabled to pursue zero-net energy and to demonstrate its potential as a stand-alone resilient facility.”
The Hatch Centre incorporates both a conventional heating and cooling system powered by the university’s central plant and integrates research technologies funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. These include solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal panels, wind turbines, a CHP generator, an intensive building diagnostic system, and a geothermal field. The building envelope incorporates R25 walls, R40 roofs and triple glazing, and through connection with the adjacent John Hodgins Engineering Building, reduces the perimeter by 30 percent, thereby improving the overall thermal performance.
“We are pleased to celebrate this very significant landmark for our students’ benefit,” said Ishwar Puri, McMaster’s Dean of Engineering. “The vision for the Hatch Centre unites a sustainable building with augmented programming. Both have been designed to enhance the experiential learning of our students and to inspire them to become engaged citizen scholars who will transform the world.”
This new home for the undergraduate engineering teams and clubs comprises a ground floor build space and machine shop for projects, including solar car development and Formula One race team. The second floor houses design labs and collaborative meeting space while the third floor of this compact 26,800 sq ft building has student support services. A full-height skylit atrium unites the program areas and connects with the John Hodgins Building, providing views into both spaces.
Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is based in Toronto. Informed by urbanism, driven by design, the firm’s extensive portfolio includes research and academic facilities, performing arts centres, and residential, recreational and commercial buildings. Recently completed projects include the Technology and Trades Renewal and Innovation Project at Lethbridge College, and Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. Among current projects are Robarts Common, the expansion of Robarts Library at the University of Toronto; and the restoration of Ottawa’s heritage Government Conference Centre to include the interim home of the Senate of Canada.