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Old Main Academic Building Addition (2014)

12 Mar 2016
Image Credit: Tom Arban
Architectural Credit: Diamond Schmitt Architects; Stantec Architecture, Associate Architect
Location: Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC
Architects: Diamond Schmitt Architects; Stantec Architecture, Associate Architect
Date of completion: 2014
OAA Awards 2016 Design Excellence Finalist

Sitting atop a 1970s academic building at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, the Old Main Academic Building Addition adds much needed academic teaching and office space to house the newly-founded Faculty of Law and MBA program of the School of Business and Economics. The design takes inspiration from the campus’s surrounding landscape of softly rolling mountains and the university’s First Nations heritage, creating a facility in tune with its natural and cultural landscape.

Photo Credit; Ed White
The addition’s most salient feature is an undulating, 400 feet-long roof, its shape echoing the peaks of Mount Peter and Mount Paul, sacred mountains for the indigenous Secwepemc people. The undulating shape also cleverly integrates the two new floors with the mechanical penthouse of the original building. The floors of the existing building have been re-clad in cement-board siding, fitted into curving bands that recall First Nations basket-weaving traditions. The bands bow outwards to form two cedar-clad canopies covering previously non-descript entrances and creating a dialogue between the plans and elevations.

Photo Credit; Ed White
Furthering the connection between building and context, the addition prominently features wood as a local material for both structure and finishes. The decision to use wood in the roof structure required innovative thinking to comply with the building code. At four storeys, the addition was too tall to permit flammable materials in its structure. Hence an alternative solution based on heavy timber and fire-retardant-treated dimensional lumber had to be developed, involving computer simulation of fire conditions to demonstrate the building would safely meet the intent of the code. The success of this approach opens up new opportunities for wood structure in building types where it cannot be conventionally used.

Photo Credit; Ed White
A truly site sensitive addition, the Old Main Academic Building Addition has been carefully designed at all levels, from finishes to overall form, to successfully establish a dialog between the new facility and its local cultural and natural context, helping reinforce the identity of this emerging western university.

To view the complete submission, including additional images and drawings, please click here.

This post (10/20) is part of the OAA Awards 2016 Design Excellence Finalists blOAAg series celebrating the best of Ontario architecture. Every day during the month of March we will be posting a new finalist. You can view all posts by clicking here. Winners will be announced April 1, 2016.

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