Diamond and Schmitt speeds ahead of the pack with Automotive Centre of Excellence
The Automotive Centre of Excellence is by any measure a unique building – perhaps one-of-a-kind in Canada. It was inaugurated on 13th June at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa. The new facility designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects is a rare combination of industrial research and educational programming co-existing under the same roof. The presence of a large and powerful Aerodynamic and Climatic Wind Tunnel lends further distinction to this building-as-machine that serves as a testing ground for product innovation for everything from cars to computers.
“There were many design challenges to make this building function as a multi-purpose facility, not least of which was integrating the monumental Climatic Wind Tunnel into the structure and building systems at ACE”, said project architect Michael Szabo. This technical feat extended throughout the design and construction process in collaboration with Aiolos, the wind tunnel designer.
As part of the UOIT campus, ACE functions both as a centre for proprietary research as well as an active part of university life. “Balancing the need for a secure and confidential environment and the aspiration for an open and transparent engagement of the university was fundamental to the success of the project”, said Donald Schmitt, a principal with the design firm. Public spaces and student areas are located in close proximity to the restricted research areas within the building.
The 16,632 sq m ACE houses the Collaborative Research Facility (CRF) with an array of testing facilities including the wind tunnel, Soak Rooms where vehicles are exposed to extreme temperatures and other climatic variables, a four-post shaker and Mast Test Cells, a semi-anechoic room to test acoustical properties of components.
The Wind tunnel component of the ACE building is a three-storey structure. Two of the three stories are high bay spaces that include long spans up to 17.5m in order to accommodate the bulk of the wind tunnel circuit. Lateral stability of the structure is provided by a combination of diagonal steel bracing and cast in place concrete shear walls. The structure supports many individual pieces of equipment and forms part of the wind tunnel facility.