December 10, 2007
by Canadian Architect
Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC has selected award-winning BC firm Iredale Group Architecture (IGA) to design an environmentally innovative new building on its heritage site campus. A practitioner of sustainable design and community collaboration, IGA will begin work immediately on the Robert Bateman Art and Environmental Education Centre a building Royal Roads president Allan Cahoon says will be the centrepiece of an initiative to transform the university into a living laboratory for sustainability one that will make key contributions to the province’s climate change action plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
“As a place of higher learning, we recognize the vital role we play in shaping tomorrow’s environmental leaders and in finding new ways to manage our planet’s natural resources,” said Cahoon. “This project is the latest manifestation of our commitment to leadership in understanding, celebrating, and protecting our natural world.”
Iredale Group Architecture, with offices in Vancouver and Victoria, was founded in 1980 as a practice focusing on civic, education, and heritage buildings. The firm has completed projects in British Columbia worth in excess of $400 million and has received more than 20 design awards.
“This will not only be a building where people will come and learn but a special place where the fabulous, moving art of Robert Bateman will be integrated in such a way that visitors will leave their day-to-day lives temporarily behind and be able to connect with the wonder of nature around them,” said architect Richard Iredale.
The Robert Bateman Art and Environmental Education Centre is envisioned as a “Living Building” a standard that goes beyond the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards in that it will create zero greenhouse gas emissions and have a positive impact on the environment. Living buildings are usually constructed from natural local materials and include a variety of solar and thermal designs as well as on-site wastewater treatment systems. This project will also include restoration of the wetland that was on the centre’s site 100 years ago before the family of James Dunsmuir drained the land to graze livestock.
The Robert Bateman Art and Environmental Education Centre will house an extensive collection of donated originals and prints by Robert Bateman in addition to photographs by Robert and Birgit Bateman and archival material, sketch books and correspondence. It will host art exhibits and offer environmental education programming, including guest lectures and seminars led by Robert Bateman and other artists and educators.
“The most important issue facing humankind now is wise stewardship of the natural world,” said Bateman. “Richard and his team have demonstrated to me that they hold this to be true and I am pleased Iredale Group will take on the challenge of building RRU’s first living building.”
Planning for the Bateman Centre will begin immediately with construction slated to start in fall 2008. The centre is scheduled to open in 2010. While planning and construction is underway, Robert Bateman will be honorary chair of a campaign to raise $30 million: $20 million to build and endow the Robert Bateman Art and Environmental Education Centre and $10 million for other campus sustainability projects.