School-clinic hybrid makes like a tree...

Amy
31 Oct 2011

Taut glass membrane ornamented with scattered depictions of medical plants

The University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, completed in January 2010, was designed and built to provide a suitable learning environment for students and faculty, act as a catalyst for its immediate community, and present the city of Kitchener with a distinct landmark.

A public and private partnership between the city of Kitchener and University of Waterloo created a rare opportunity to provide the citizens of the region with a Health Science campus that offers superior education and pharmaceutical services, while energising the urban landscape.

The resulting school-clinic hybrid sets an important precedent for future academic developments, highlighting the importance of combining education with real world practice. The building's key programmatic features include: an eight-storey tower directly on the corner of King and Victoria Streets, creating a strong gateway to the downtown, and a central outdoor courtyard providing a venue for both interaction and quiet contemplation, as well as the opportunity to host art exhibitions and outdoor performance.

The project incorporates a rich programme, mixing faculty and student laboratories, lecture and seminar rooms, an auditorium, a herbarium and a commercial pharmacy. One of the key elements in the evolution of the design was the creation of a façade that would portray the use of the building as a pharmaceutical building. The colourful solution was the incorporation of plants to ornament the glass membrane; illustrating the importance of the benefits and the adverse effects of medicine.

The lyrical façades incorporate taut glass membrane ornamented with scattered depictions of medical plants. Simultaneously, they enhance the streetscape with an unprecedented aesthetic for the increasingly urbane neighbourhood - a kind of delicate communications strategy through the use of progressive technology and traditional watercolour artistry.

The panels also serve to reduce light penetration and thus, efficiently control heating and cooling loads. The use of local materials serves to further this holistic effect: recycled wood flooring, Algonquin limestone and copper detailing create a fresh interpretation of the traditional canon of academic institutions.

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