Lazaridis Hall

Location: Waterloo, Ont.
Architect: Diamond Schmitt Architects in Association with David Thompson Architect Ltd.

OAA Design Excellence Awards Finalist
Lazaridis Hall responds to the Wilfrid Laurier University’s requirement to merge its School of Business and Economics with the Department of Mathematics in a signature building. Located at the edge of the campus, and within Canada’s Technology Region in Waterloo, the university required the building to be a catalyst and provide a welcoming statement. Dynamic new spaces were created to enhance entrepreneurial opportunities and cultivate connections. Laurier needed a building that would raise its profile and redefine the identity of the institution.
The formal composition for Lazaridis Hall includes shifting floorplates, punctuated by curvilinear volumes. These volumes, at either end, contain an auditorium and a lecture hall; the latter floats above a glass-encased café. These moves refine the expression of this steel-and-concrete building. Inside, a homogeneous glass-and-steel skylight crowns the central gathering space—a light-filled atrium. The prefabricated frame of the skylight allowed for minimal customization, reduced budget, and ease of installation. A hub for collaboration, the building’s hybrid program is clustered carefully to foster cross-pollination amongst participants in various disciplines. The building’s dynamic facade also enlivens the streetscape along University Avenue.
The LEED Gold certified building is designed to meet the 2030 Challenge. It is enclosed in an efficient envelope with a 22.5 per cent window-to-wall ratio, preventing heat loss and infiltration. The mechanical system adapts to fluctuating conditions, utilizing an atrium as a return air plenum in concert with an in-slab PEX system. The building features a rain diversion system that gathers greywater into a cistern (for non-drinking purposes), reducing consumption by more than 40 per cent. The low-voltage electrical system includes LED fixtures (fed by solar panels on the roofs), and a smart technology that monitors—and improves—the building’s performance over time.
Lazaridis Hall has become a landmark for both Wilfrid Laurier University and its new business school. The building is a crossroads, bringing together academic and entrepreneurial ambitions. Connecting people in Waterloo—a tech region—it is seen as a significant gesture for the university in the 21st century. The 1,000-seat auditorium had acoustic properties that support convocation, special speakers, lectures, conferences, as well as music performances. The combination of the auditorium and atrium accommodates a wide range of activities, providing a much-needed non-structured space for students, faculty, campus, and the surrounding community. It is a catalyst, cultivating connections.

Image Credit: Doublespace Photography 
Image Credit: Doublespace Photography

Image Credit: Doublespace Photography
Architectural Credit: Diamond and Schmitt Architects Incorporated in Association with David Thompson Architect Ltd.
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