Gow Hastings Architects transforms ex-car dealership for Humber College
Dedicated to the teaching of forensic science, the Centre for Justice Leadership enables students to learn the art of finger print dusting, blood splatter interpretation and other investigative techniques. This state-of-the-art institution, unique in Ontario, is equipped with specialised equipment for polygraph technology and criminal profiling. Students study crime scenes and hone their investigative skills in the centre’s tiered 45-seat theatre with a simulated one-bedroom apartment for reenactment of crime scenes.
Breathing new life into a former car dealership, this is part of the college’s strategy of repurposing neighbouring buildings to expand its campus. By providing facilities for increased student enrollment, Humber College is revitalising the community, regenerating local business and achieves a reduction in the costs and environmental impacts associated with new construction.
What was once the dealership’s service area is now a crime scene investigation lab and the former showroom has been converted into classrooms, used for regular classes and mock trials. The original facade of the dealership is shrouded behind a translucent aluminum screen, providing dynamic shapes to the building’s exterior. A green living wall cascades down the facade and is visible through large fissures in the screen.
Inspired by the nature of the centre’s activities, the new facade gives the building a simultaneously alluring and discrete appearance. The aluminum screen also serves to soften the bright light that previously permeated the structure through the large showroom windows. The vertical garden provides a lush, natural contrast to the sharp sculptural shape of the screen and to the street’s harsh paving. After dark, the large LED sign projecting Humber’s wordmark radiates an ambient glow from behind the screen.
Opened in September 2010, the Centre for Justice Leadership achieves the college’s original need to accommodate significant program demand, and since its inauguration, has attracted exceptional numbers of prospective students.