Glossy new addition to John Abbott College inspired by nearby ginkgo tree
The history of John Abbott College along Lac St-Louis stretches back to the early twentieth century, its red-brick buildings touted as ‘the most beautiful campus in Quebec’. The English-language college recently welcomed a new addition to this picturesque campus: The Anne-Marie Edward Science Building by Saucier + Perrotte architectes.
Costing CAD$30.5m and encompassing 10,400 sq m of prime teaching space, the Science Building takes its cue from the manicured green landscaping of the campus. A ‘majestic’ ginkgo tree stands proudly on the building site and Saucier + Perrotte have deliberately angled the form to embrace this mature tree, creating a public courtyard.
At ground level the volume is open and welcoming, encouraging students and faculty to use the site as a passage to other areas of the campus. A permeable ground floor ushers users into a cavernous glass atrium inspired by the neighbouring gingko tree, its vertical circulation branching upwards to the various functions of the building.
The creation of the new building positions the science and health technologies at the heart of the campus, bringing together the Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, Pre-hospital Emergency Care and Biopharmaceutical departments under one roof. Saucier + Perrotte have respected the radial organisation of the original campus plan in the positioning of this new addition, creating a node and hub for science.
Blending a contemporary glass form into a historic site with traditional architecture can be a challenging task but Saucier + Perrotte have done so with sensitivity and finesse. The finished building incorporates opalescent white, light grey and dark grey glass, catching the sunlight at different angles throughout the day to create changing perspectives for passers-by and ‘a heightened perception of the architecture’.
The facades to the north and south are hued to draw ties with the red brick of their neighbouring forms, further stitching the building into the campus. The architects continue: “The grand staircase and seating elements comprising the interior ‘tree’ also weave these orange hues throughout the building, just as the weathered steel of the north façade and the ruddy masonry courtyard surfaces relate back to the historic campus tiles and brick. Through its dialectic with the existing architecture, the new project is both contemporary in form and harmonious with the historic campus.”