Location: Windsor, Ont.
Architect: Hariri Pontarini Architects
OAA Design Excellence Awards Finalist
The competition-winning Essex Centre of Research (CORe) was inspired by the desire to merge and engage the dense work of science within the welcoming, collegial, and natural environment of the University of Windsor. Its state-of-the-art lab spaces, which house the physics, chemistry, and biology departments, feature large, highly functional and unobstructed floor plates to create flexible and open working areas. Immersed in a unifying gesture and architectural expression, ‘lab’ and ‘collab’ co-exist to create the required synergy for scientific research. Functioning as both an attractor and connector, Essex CORe brings together academia and industry partners, standing as a showcase for 21st century research.
Visible from the campus to the east and the Ambassador Bridge to the west, Essex CORe appears as a floating beacon of creativity and innovation. Enveloped by a transparent ‘skin’ of custom fritted-glass fins, the building offers passersby a glimpse of the research happening within. Once inside, the entrance vestibule opens directly to the building’s core—a soaring triple-height atrium that initiates social interaction and fosters formal and informal collaboration. The embracing form of the opening juxtaposes with the timber-lined ceiling to exude a sense of warmth and intimacy, rendering science inviting and accessible to the rest of the campus.
With its shimmering skin and light-filled interior spaces, Essex CORe is a jewel amongst the aging infrastructure of the University. The building tells the story of science at UWindsor and is integrated into the campus fabric through its warm colouration and functional connection to Essex Hall. Designed to meet the needs of its current and future inhabitants, the building complements Essex Hall (which houses science disciplines) by providing dedicated research and office space. Essex CORe stands distinctively on the campus ‘skyline,’ attracting students, faculty, and visitors while reinforcing the university’s approach to science as open and collaborative.
Essex CORe combines several energy conservation measures, including process chiller heat recovery, lab exhaust air heat recovery, and variable volume fume hoods. To reduce solar heat gain and increase light penetration on the dominant west façade, ultra-high-performance glazing is combined with deep vertical fritted glass fins and internal light shelves. LED lighting with occupancy sensors and the extensive use of timber in the building’s interior further speak to the sustainability of the design. The Essex CORe is scheduled to consume 24.3 per cent less energy than the modelled reference building, with an annual energy consumption of 1,017,123 ekWh.
Image Credit: DoubleSpace Photography