June 5, 2018
by Canadian Architect
The innovative Environmental Sciences and Chemistry building at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) is the winning design of the 2018 Institutional Award from the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) for the large building category. Diamond Schmitt Architects received the award for the LEED Gold facility at a ceremony in Toronto on June 4th.
The five-storey UTSC building connects laboratories and academic offices around a skylit forum and crossroads. Thematically, the design is inspired by nature to reflect not only the academic pursuits within but also the building’s setting on the edge of a wooded ravine.
An integrated system of sustainable design features is both in use and on display, including an earth tube that draws fresh air underground where it is pretreated to warm up or cool down, depending on the season, before entering the mechanical system. Vertical sunshades of varying depths enliven the façade with an organic built form that relates to the visual effect of a wind pattern on water or sand.
“The building is designed to be a model of new thinking in laboratory design – open, transparent, flexible, and highly sustainable, not to mention providing a safe and secure work environment for students and researchers,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
In recognizing the building, which opened in 2016, the jury commented: “This building has a particularly innovative approach to solar shading, creating a dynamic façade and animating interior spaces. This approach carries through to the other environmental systems, which are exposed to view, not simply to celebrate the technology, but to monitor performance, facilitate research and identify potential improvements.”
Other sustainable features include geothermal boreholes, unique fritted glazing to minimize solar heat gain, all LED lighting fixtures and a high-performance curtainwall. The research being done at ESCB focuses on pressing environmental issues including climate change, groundwater pollution in urban settings, restoration of environmental systems, and rising sea levels.
Photography by Michael Muraz.