October 15, 2015
by Elsa Lam
Rendering of the Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning, by Diamond Schmitt Architects
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario has broken ground for the Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning. The 2600-square-metre (28,000-square-foot) three-storey academic building designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects will be a place of hands-on discovery where engineers, scientists and students can research integrated energy systems for urban use. The facility will provide studios, a lounge, meeting and workspaces for Engineering teams and clubs, student services and the Associate Dean of Engineering.
The Centre will house the new Research Facility for Integrated Building Energy Harvesting Systems (ReFIBES), the only test facility of its kind in North America. McMaster researcher Jim Cotton received a $2-million grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to outfit the building with research equipment for studying green energy and investigate new ways to capture energy supply that is lost during transmission. “Traditional energy delivery systems have many disadvantages,” said Cotton.
“The building itself will be very much a learning laboratory that incorporates means of storing, measuring and analyzing energy use,” said Sarah Low, Associate, Diamond Schmitt Architects. Among the features of this LEED Silver target facility will be sensors in the façade for the measurement and analysis of vision glass and exterior façade performance and a geothermal field for research into the storage of energy collected from a variety of sources. The roof will house a Solar Spectrum monitor, a Solar Spectrum Simulator and a Photovoltaic array for the collection and analysis of solar energy.
The facility will harvest electrical, thermal and fuel energy where it naturally converges—in buildings—and be a testing ground to prove the energy efficiency of developing similar, smaller, community-based facilities.
Engineering student associations at the university proposed this facility and raised over $2-million of the $11-million budget. They also had input on the program, including an automotive garage for the construction of engineering club vehicles such as the solar car, a formula car as well as a baja racecar.
“The Hatch Centre will be the central hub for student-focused experiential learning. Not only will the centre provide much-needed space for students to collaborate with one another, by using it, they will also be able to actively take charge of developing their skills and competencies as future leaders in engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Ishwar Puri, McMaster’s Dean of Engineering.