Niagara College Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus Expansion
Client : Niagara College
Area : Existing: 129,100 sf Expansion: 51,600 sf
Program : Fitness Centre, Basketball Courts, Volleyball Courts, Badminton Courts, Changerooms, Six Classrooms, Four Food Sciences Labs, Industry Incubator, Entrepreneurship Spaces, Student Lounges, Café, Administrative and Support Spaces
Associated Architects : Chapman Murray Associates Architects
Comprising both an extensive new addition and adaptive re-use—including sweeping interior renovations—Niagara College’s Student Athletic Centre transformed the campus’s student recreation spaces to create more appealing social venues and promote student health and wellness.
Located on the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus lying along the Niagara Escarpment, the site occupies a zone surrounded by large commercial centres, pockets of medium-density single-family residences and fertile agricultural lands. At the north end of the campus, the Centre adds a new wing to the campus’s pre-existing main building, extending off this horseshoe-shaped structure into an area that previously contained parking, and matching the existing structure in scale—notably in the dimensions of the windows along their eastern elevations. The Centre’s southern elevation is almost entirely glazed, including a projecting “viewfinder” section of the second and third floors that cantilevers above the sidewalk, providing a visual connection to the surrounding vineyards and greater Escarpment.
The interior program—the 51,600-square-foot expansion as well as a renovation of 129,100 square feet—includes culinary programming classrooms, laboratories, social and learning spaces, a new gymnasium, and a fitness centre. The latter is located below grade in a corner of the site excavated to negotiate a change in grade; this excavation enables the lower level to receive sunlight through windows facing to the north and east, and allowed for the creation of an exterior landscape area. Upper levels transition into the arrival and academic classroom spaces via a new student lounge with stunning views.
Natural light is a key aspect of the design. Even the below-grade gym and fitness centre receive direct light, as does the ground-floor lobby; from these areas, light washes deeper into the athletic corridor down a generous feature stair, so that nearly all rooms receive either direct or indirect sunlight.
The new addition of a vibrant, healthy and successful building to the campus represents the growth not only of the College but of the Niagara Escarpment itself, by making it possible to expand the College’s cooking and agricultural programs and thereby promote all that the region has to offer.