Diamond Schmitt

Diamond Schmitt opens $44.9 million facility at college in Ottawa

Friday, May 11, 2018

A new centre for “learning, innovation and entrepreneurship” has been opened at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

The state-of-the-art facility features collaborative e environments with an emphasis on the sharing and embracing of Indigenous knowledge.

The DARE (Discovery, Applied Research and Entrepreneurship) District promotes new, active ways of learning and teaching that connects students, researchers, the Indigenous and business communities.

The 80,000-square-foot program, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in a joint venture with Edward J. Cuhaci & Associates Architects, consists of newly built and renovated space at the heart of the campus.

The former two-storey library building was taken back to its shell and a re-imagined library relocated to a new double-height third floor addition with a dramatic barrel-vaulted wood roof structure.

“The DARE District is a visual representation of our College mission — to transform hopes and dreams into lifelong success,” said Algonquin College president Cheryl Jensen. “This building, with its sweeping ceiling, wide-open spaces, and stunning views of the campus is a place that will inspire a new generation of our learners. We are also very proud that it is a place that, through its very architecture and design, is helping us on our journey to Truth and Reconciliation.”

The ground floor now houses the Showcase Zone, with applied research labs next to the College’s main entrance. Adjacent to this is the Indigenous Commons and Gathering Circle, a large event space and collaborative work area in a single-storey infill addition that opens onto a courtyard that will feature a wood structure and fire pit configured to support Indigenous pedagogy. The Discovery Zone on the second level has incubator and makerspaces designed to foster partnerships between students and local businesses. A new Institute for Indigenous Entrepreneurship, the first of its kind in Ontario, is located here as well.

“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, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “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 $44.9-million facility is the second project at the College by Diamond Schmitt, following the LEED Platinum Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence.

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