CONCEPT: The Science & Technology Building’s bold cantilevered form creates an iconic gateway into Langara College’s Vancouver main campus. Creating the College’s first consolidated home for its science programs, the design fosters community through the creation of a variety of social and study spaces, and a focus on visual and physical interconnectivity. The fundamental goals of the project were to enhance the student experience by providing a variety of exciting environments for student collaboration and to strengthen both the connectivity of the campus and the image of the College within the city.
SITE: Responding to a severely constrained site and adjacent geothermal field, extensive program requirements, and the desire to maintain existing outdoor spaces and sight lines, a cantilevered solution was developed in concert with the project structural engineer that allows the mass of the building to hover over the College’s main entrance driveway. The resulting 16.1 metre overhang frames the entrance to the campus, presenting a dynamic image fitting of the College’s forward thinking educational vision. The landmark building marks the primary entrance to the campus from the nearby Skytrain and also defines the western edge of the College’s entry forecourt.
INNOVATION: At a cost of approximately $280/s.f., the showpiece facility was achieved through innovative and careful detailing and close collaboration with the client, construction manager and various building trades. Drawing inspiration from Semper’s theories of art form and core form, the building exhibits structural bravado, either by displaying structural steel directly or suggesting its form behind veils of cladding and finishes – executive in a cost-effective manner. The experience of the structure is central to the design: oculus punctures the three stories of the building’s cantilever; intumescent-painted structural steel is revealed in the lobbies and display cases; and interior plasterboard walls sculpturally express underlying structural members. Wrapped around the oculus, the multi-storey ‘Vortex Lounge’ – a series of informal study spaces and an open stair – draws students up through the building and presents student activity as the face of the College.
DETAILING & SUSTAINABILITY: Detailing focused on key goals of visual interconnectivity and exceptional thermal performance. The ‘Sculpture Wall’ custom louvre system forms a veil that choreographs views to campus, the surrounding community and the distant North Shore Mountains while maximizing useful natural light. Internally, extensive glazing and multi-storey voids allow circulation through the building to be animated by views to different levels, and, wherever possible, teaching spaces.
The sustainable strategy coupled a high-performance envelope – including thermally broken façade clips, and a polycarbonate wall-panel system providing diffuse daylighting – with innovative energy management technology. The mechanical system incorporates the first installation of Thermenex-In-A-Box, an innovative locally designed energy transfer system, which allows heat redistribution to be carried far further than traditional heat recovery. Significant given the energy use of a lab building, the system dramatically reduces energy consumption and costs. Mechanical systems were further reduced by using natural stack effect ventilation in the six-storey lightwell for return air flow – a key part of the spatial experience of the building.