September 9, 2009
by Canadian Architect
The University of Western Ontario has selected the Toronto-based architecture firm Hariri Pontarini Architects to design a new 234,000-square-foot building for its renowned Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario. The design was selected from a shortlist of four international firms earlier in 2009. Completion for Phase I of construction is targeted for March 2011.
“A truly great business school builds a sense of collaboration and excellence into its fibre. Hariri Pontarini understands this and has done a superb job of designing a building that will foster and support the lifelong networks and strong communities that are the foundations of Ivey and of global leadership in business,” said Carol Stephenson, Dean of the School. “It is a pleasure working with a firm that so deeply understands Ivey’s vision and values.”
At the heart of this approach lies the insight that design for collaboration is fundamental to Ivey’s pedagogy. The design is informed by the knowledge that Ivey must foster and support the lifelong networks and strong communities that are the foundation of global leadership in business. In the rich academic tradition of collegiate gothic architecture for which the University of Western Ontario is known, the design takes the form of an archetypal quadrangle building, which provides a powerful architectural armature for the Ivey program and the organizing device of the Ivey community.
In keeping with the Ivey and the Western vision, the building will respect the past, yet project a timeless, vibrant future. This design respects the enduring relevance of the courtyard form, with the exterior skin of the building expressing the timeless quality of stone for which the Western campus is well known. In its form, materiality, and gravitas, the design speaks to Ivey’s position as one of the world’s leading business schools.
The design was approached from the inside out, capturing what is meaningful and singular about Ivey to build community and design a building that reflects its unique team-based learning approach. With its more opaque masonry, the exterior conveys a timeless expression and that relates to the form and materiality of the traditional campus. At its most elemental, the design is a simple, three-storey quadrangle building surrounding a landscaped courtyard. The shaping of the design is anchored in the team-based learning that happens both formally and informally throughout the school. All spaces support the team-based learning approach – the main gathering space; the garden quadrangle; down to the “perfect” proportions of the case-study classrooms; the dining areas where so much informal work takes place; or even the deliberate walks into the landscape that support “thinking in motion.” The case classrooms anchor the outer perimeter, with the study rooms for smaller group discussions disposed around the quadrangle like glowing gems. Special program elements – dining hall, library, amphitheatre – are afforded distinctive treatment as pavilions, attached to the main circulation. These pavilions extend into the surrounding landscape as distinct objects with unique social and spatial experiences, part of the external identity the school conveys as a confident global leader.
The project broke ground in September 2009, with anticipated occupancy of Phase I in March 2011. The construction budget for Phase I is $40 million; for both phases of the project it is $75 million.