Lethbridge College Innovation Centre wins Prairie Wood Design Award

An expanded trades and technologies centre at Alberta’s Lethbridge College received top honours at the Prairie Wood Design Awards for the institutional building category. The Trades Technologies Renewal and Innovation Project (TTRIP) designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in association with Sahuri + Partners adds 170,000 square feet of program space and features both structural and design elements in timber.Lethbridge College, Diamond Schmitt, Sahuri

The expansion organizes new workshops, labs, offices and classrooms around a north-south central spine and adjacent learning commons. “The extensive use of wood supports the goal to create a cohesive and legible plan that identifies the different program areas,” said Michael Leckman, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “Wood also enhances the ambience of the new public areas where informal study and gathering space encourage student encounter and the opportunity to continue learning outside the classroom or workshop setting.”

Wood elements in the facility include the wood-lined atrium and central spine ceiling, custom-designed doors and 22 structural columns. “In addition to its environmental properties, the wood also adds a design element,” said Francis Rankin, Lethbridge College project manager. “It gives a softer and more inviting feel for the students.”Lethbridge College, Diamond Schmitt, Sahuri

The use of wood as a design element supports the college’s focus on sustainability by making the facility both a showpiece and learning tool for energy-efficiency. A comprehensive array of passive and active sustainable design features includes net zero utility cost to operate the expanded area at no more than the smaller facility it replaces. The building optimizes daylight access, building envelope performance and mechanical-electrical system integration and is positioned to achieve LEED Gold certification.

The undulating roofline is a defining feature of the building and references the region’s gently rolling coulees. Two slender wood columns support an overhang to create a sheltered area at the main entrance and signal the procession of paired wood columns along the central spine.