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Lazaridis Hall featured on cover of Canadian Architect June 2017

Posted: Jun 16/17

Canadian Architect

Project: Lazaridis Hall, Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloo, ON
Architects: Diamond Schmitt Architects with David Thompson Architect Ltd. (Associate Architect)
Text: Magdalena Milosz
Photos: Doublespace Photography

Lazaridis Hall, Wilfred Laurier University, Canadian Architect June 2017

Lazaridis Hall, Wilfred Laurier University
featured on cover of Canadian Architect June 2017
Photo: Doublespace Photography

Since its founding in 1960, Wilfred Laurier University has had a habit of looking inward – at least in terms of urban design.  Situated at the southwest corner of University and King, the Waterloo campus of the mid-sized university has, until recently, faced the street with a series of seemingly impenetrable walls.

Lazaridis Hall – its newest addition – breaks the pattern by extending the campus northward and embracing the community.  Inside, math and business students rub shoulders with faculty and professionals in a dynamic, high-tech environment centred on a soaring atrium.

“It was the first venture across the street, so to speak,” says Donald Schmitt, FRAIC, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, “an opportunity for real identify and presence on University Avenue.”

From a distance, the building announces itself with four stories of shifting, rectangular volumes clad in vertical strips of charcoal-coloured zinc, punctuated by two drums covered in warm-toned wood.  The first drum contains a 300-seat classroom hovering above a glass-wrapped café; the second is a 1,000-seat auditorium for convocations and other events.  As a gateway building, Lazaridis Hall is dramatic yet effortless, distinguishing itself from its surroundings and creating visual openness with continuous glazing at grade.  From the sidewalk, one can catch glimpses of student club meetings and the bustle of the cage, which will include outdoor seating in the warmer months.

Planning of the 21,000-square-metre facility was a challenge due to a four-metre slope across the site and the rapidly changing neighbourhood context of Northdale.  The post-ware, single-family residential area has been shifting towards denser development – chiefly in the form of apartments catering to students of Laurier and the nearby University of Waterloo.

Lazaridis Hall, Wilfred Laurier University

Lazaridis Hall, Wilfred Laurier University
Photo: Doublespace Photography

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