University of Ottawa building collecting awards

The 15-storey Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa houses nine faculties and 10,000 students. Photos courtesy Diamond Schmitt Architects
The 15-storey Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa houses nine faculties and 10,000 students. Photos courtesy Diamond Schmitt Architects

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa campus earned three sustainable building awards in 2014.

Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and KWC Architects, the new academic facility has been recognized with:
● Institutional Building Award at the Ontario Concrete Awards;
● Interior Wood Design Award from Ontario Wood WORKS!; and
● Interior Green Wall Award of Excellence at CitiesAlive, the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) conference.

The 15-storey building features a glazed prow that tapers to a ‘flat iron’ to announce a new campus gateway from the Rideau Canal. To claim an additional 557 m2 (6000 sf) of educational space that does not impede on the footprint of a future public plaza, a 12-m (39-ft) cantilever supports a 225-seat theatre, a double-height multi-use hall, and a vegetated roof.

With nine faculties and 10,000 students, the Social Sciences Building provides sizeable circulation and public amenity space. Wood products were specified for many high-traffic locations throughout the tower and its connecting components. Cherry wood slatted screens line the main atrium linking the new facility with the renovated Vanier Hall campus building via multi-level bridges.

“In addition to wood panels introducing a warm, rich element that is prominent and welcoming, slatted wood screens provide acoustic absorption, which is essential in the large interconnected spaces,” Donald Schmitt, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects said.

A second atrium contains one of North America’s largest vertically planted living wall bio-filter at its centre. This giant six-storey green feature is connected to the mechanical system and serves to purify return air.

“The living wall is central to the experience of being in the public space of this large 23,225-m2 (250,000-sf) building—it positively affects the light, sound, texture, air, and colour of the space,” said Diamond Schmitt Architects’ Sarah Low.

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