Location11 Arboretum Ln, North York, ON M3J, Canada
From the architect. Setting benchmarks worldwide for engineering education, The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence re-thinks campus hierarchy to foster modern ways of learning. Resulting from an intensive design process between ZAS Architects, The Lassonde School of Engineering, and York University, the world-class facility challenges past models with a modern approach rooted in student learning and empowerment.
A hub for entrepreneurship, collaboration, and creativity, the facility’s design aims to advance engineering education and provide a platform to educate the next generation of engineers – The Renaissance Engineer: a creative problem solver and entrepreneurial leader with a social conscience.
Student productivity drove the design process, optimizing spaces for learning, discovery and interaction. A complete immersion of technology and architecture allowed for no lecture halls, fewer classrooms and a project-based learning environment.
Students, faculty, and staff areas are seamlessly integrated throughout the building. Inverting the typical structure, students are given access to the best and brightest spaces while offices are located in the core. Breaking down barriers, the layout creates opportunities for spontaneous faculty and student interaction within abundant social spaces.
A beacon for invention in the outer ring of York University’s campus, The Bergeron Center’s bold architecture represents limitless creativity. Reflective of Renaissance principles of innovation and non- conformity, a cloud-like triangular glass façade stands bold. The undulating façade is comprised of a series of triangles positioned according to a precise and complex algorithm. Evoking the properties of a cloud, it reflects light and pattern across campus and into the interior.
Inside the cloud, rows of desks and lecture halls are replaced with active learning classrooms. A massive multi-storey materials testing lab provides an unprecedented hands-on approach to both learning and teaching that was previously only available to engineers in the field. Bright open spaces replace traditional classrooms and labs. Integrated pods are configured with audiovisual learning tools that encourage students to spontaneously plug-in.
Social spaces are thoughtfully integrated adjacent to intense research and academic areas, facilitating the cross-pollination of ideas and creativity among students and faculty. Echoing the look of a tech start-up, the open, energetic Design Commons is a gathering place for learning where students are encouraged to foster entrepreneurial ideas and prototype them.
Playful, unexpected design elements are infused into the environment at every turn, creating endless inspiration. Throughout the building, a student-centric philosophy extends – even the corridors are places to learn and create with small niches, banquettes and white boards for around the clock brainstorming sessions and critique.
The resulting imaginative space pushes boundaries for an equally imaginative approach to teaching, one that will empower and cultivate a new breed of globally aware and socially conscious engineers.