University of Waterloo William Tatham Centre for Co-operative Education & Career Action
Client : University of Waterloo
Area : 50,500 sf
Program : Student Career Centre, Student Lounge, Administrative and Support Spaces
Completion : December 2002
Located on the southern campus of one of Canada’s most innovative universities, the CECA student services building hosts approximately 45,000 interviews conducted with over 6,000 recruiters every year. It replaces an overcrowded and outdated facility, meeting the projected future enrolment and requirements of the largest co-operative education program in the world, involving 3,000 participating employers and 11,000 undergrads from over a hundred academic programs.
The long rectangular volume of the CECA runs north–south, fully glazed at grade, and clad in red brick above. On the eastern elevation, where a continuous stairwell joins all three storeys and ends in an elevated light well, the façade is animated by a zigzagging curtain wall that renders the stairwell’s entire run fully visible to the campus green. Additional glazed sections project from all four elevations, highlighting the entry points and flooding interior gathering areas with daylight.
The CECA’s 45,500-square-foot interior comprises 100 individual interview rooms—all of them naturally lit by operable windows—as well as seven group presentation rooms for a dozen to a hundred people, a videoconference room, 55 administrative offices, lounges, and a café. The CECA is also home to the career services department, which maintains career reference and counselling materials, and conducts workshops and other career-related activities.
Transparency of program from both inside and out was a priority, allowing the CECA to serve as a place for both student gatherings and after-hours studying; the interview rooms double as study carrels and, during the off-season, as fully wired “hotel offices” for remote workers. As a space for both students and employers, the CECA is simultaneously professional, comfortable, progressive, and accessible. Its interior finishes are clean and modern, with frameless glass railings and interior partitions warmed by wooden detailing, including the staircase stringers and handrails, panelled feature walls in reception areas, and sculptural installations.
Even on a state-of-the-art campus like the University of Waterloo’s, the CECA has improved student life by providing the in-demand Centre for Co-operative Education and Career Services with a dedicated space that both functionally and symbolically unites the academic and business spheres.