Two buildings designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects have been recognized by WoodWORKS!, an Ontario-based event dedicated to recognizing outstanding wood design and construction, for their use of wood in architectural designs.
Lazaridis Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. was presented with the Interior Wood Design Award. Lazaridis Hall is a 225,000 square foot facility for the Lazaridis School of Business, Economics and Math and related programs. It features large wood-line spaces, including the atrium, 1,000-seat auditorium and 300-seat lecture hall.
“Wood proved versatile for both aesthetic and acoustic considerations in these large spaces,” said Birgit Siber, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, in a press release. “Wood contributes to and unifies the dynamic curvilinear forms of the building where exterior veneer faced resin phenolic panels are closely matched with wood veneer panels on the interior curved walls.”
Built-in furniture also incorporates extensive wood elements ranging from continuous counters surrounding the atrium to a sculptural wall-mounted bench in the entrance. Classrooms are constructed with tiered levels, featuring a backdrop of custom acoustic panels in red oak designed with 250,000 circular openings to temper sound and add visual interest. The WoodWORKS! jury said the facility “demonstrates ingenuity and resourcefulness” in its use of wood.
Diamond Schmitt’s National Arts Centre (NAC) project won the Jury’s Choice Award at the event. Three new wings were added to the NAC, constructed with a prefabricated exposed wood structure. Laminated triangular wood coffers of western Canada Douglas fir create the finished decorative ceiling.
“The use of wood and glass provide a contrast to the original Brutalist building,” said Jennifer Mallard, senior associate at Diamond Schmitt Architects. “The geometry of the fine detailing in the wood coffers is inspired by the original building and adds a layer of texture to the 1969 structure.”
NAC’s Southam Hall received an extensive application of wood to improve room acoustics. Hardwood flooring and wood seat backs replace heavily upholstered surfaces and the flooring is made of engineered white oak stained to match the dark brown of the building’s original colour palette. The reflective wood surfaces have brightened the sound and have significantly enhanced the acoustic performance of the hall.