CIGI Campus Honoured with Award

 29 / 10 / 2012

The CIGI Campus, located in Waterloo, Ontario, is a hub of Canadian-based study and research in international affairs.  The 114,000-square foot facility is home to academic and research programs that are partnerships between The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and other institutions — including the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), which is a partnership among the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and CIGI. The form of the campus is a contemporary version of the traditional “Oxbridge” academic quadrangle, and is built on the site of the original Seagram’s distillery. Its central courtyard is enclosed by three-storey academic wings on the north, west and south, and is completed by the main auditorium pavilion to the east. The BSIA occupies the north and west wings of the CIGI Campus building. The pavilion is adjacent to the original Centre for International Governance Innovation founded in 2001, which is housed in an original 19th-century barrel warehouse.

Blackwell completed this project in 2011 with Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects.  Regarding the structure, the academic wings are constructed of reinforced concrete, using Bubbledeck. A voided biaxial slab, the Bubbledeck system employs hollow balls made from recycled plastic to displace concrete from the centre of the slab—similar to hollowcore precast planks. While the York University Life Sciences building was the first to use Bubbledeck in the GTA, the CIGI campus building was the first in Ontario. The use of Bubbledeck in this project resulted in a reduction in the overall weight of the floor plates by approximately 35 percent, which allowed for simple spans of up to 11 metres with only a 390mm thick flat plate supported on columns. This modest assembly depth provided large clear spans while permitted a reduction in the overall height of the building, resulting in significant cost savings in exterior building envelope.

The auditorium wing is constructed from precast wall panels and structural steel columns supporting structural steel roof framing. The entrance canopy soars 11 metres towards Erb Street, clearly indicating the entrance to the complex. And while the structure appears interesting to all passerby, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the auditorium cannot be seen: the north-east corner of the auditorium building, including the columns supporting the large roof cantilever, is actually itself cantilevered over a large underground culvert that carries Laurel Creek beneath uptown Waterloo.

This project has received the prestigious 2012 RIBA International Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and most recently a 2014 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture.

Photo credit: Maris Mezulis

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