Algonquin College’s Ottawa campus has opened the DARE (Discovery, Applied Research and Entrepreneurship) District, a new centre for learning, innovation and entrepreneurship. The learning centre features state-of-the-art collaborative environments with an emphasis on the sharing of Indigenous knowledge.
The 80,000-square-foot facility, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in joint venture with Edward J. Cuhaci & Associates Architects, consists of newly built and renovated space at the heart of Algonquin College’s Ottawa campus. The $44.9 million facility is the second project at Algonquin College that was designed by Diamond Schmitt, following the LEED Platinum Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence.
“The design of the DARE District promotes interaction among these distinct but interconnected components with a three-storey atrium and feature stair running along the fully-glazed façade,” said Sarah Low, associate at Diamond Schmitt Architects, in a press release. “Among the innovative features in this LEED Gold registered facility is dynamic vision glass that tints automatically in response to exterior conditions and controls glare and solar heat gain on the west and east elevations.”
The former two-storey library building was reduced to its shell to accommodate the DARE District. The re-imagined library, known as the Library and Learning Centre, was relocated to a new double-height third floor addition with a dramatic barrel-vaulted wood roof structure. The roof is a mass timber and steel structure with exposed undulating glulam beams and nail laminated timber (NLT) roof deck. The library rises above the surrounding buildings, making it visible across the campus, and is open to students 24 hours a day.
The ground floor is now home to the Showcase Zone with applied research labs next to the college’s main entrance. The Indigenous Commons and Gathering Circle, a large event space and collaborative work area, sit adjacent to this in a single-storey infill addition that opens onto a courtyard. This area will feature a wood structure and fire pit configured to support Indigenous education. The Discovery Zone on the second level has incubator and maker spaces designed to foster partnerships between students and local businesses. The building also features a new Institute for Indigenous Entrepreneurship, the first of its kind in Ontario.
The design of the DARE District was consulted on by Ron McLester, the college’s Executive Director – Truth, Reconciliation & Indigenization, and Indigenous consultants that convey Indigenous values and spirit. The Indigenous Commons includes a gathering circle with sliding curved partitions that allow the space to be transformed into a multipurpose area and connects to a communal kitchen and fireplace.
Photo caption: The single-story infill addition with green roof houses the Indigenous Commons. A feature stair across the three-storey façade connects the zones of the DARE District.