+VG Architects Renovates Brock University’s Goodman School of Business

Home of the Goodman School of Business at Brock University, Taro Hall’s recent expansion and renovation by +VG Architects is a general refresh of the existing facility.

Aerial view of Taro Hall from the southwest with the pyramidal light monitors on the roof of Mackenzie Chown Complex in the background. The new atrium provides event and communal space; receptions can spill out to the adjacent patio area. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.

According to Barry Wright, GSB Interim Dean, the new building will have a big impact on Goodman’s 2,900 undergrads and 520 graduate students. “This is about giving Goodman students a better advantage in launching their careers. Yes, the architecture will be beautiful, but importantly this project brings a new generation of teaching and learning facilities that are truly state-of-the-art.”

View of the renovated second-floor east corridor. Linked to adjacent campus buildings, the corridor acts as a thoroughfare for all students, not just those in the business school. The refresh includes new lighting, millwork display cabinets and benches with power and USB outlets. The previously exposed cinderblock walls were covered with friendlier and less institutional-looking abuse-resistant drywall. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.
12. View up the stairs connecting the atrium to the second-storey overlook. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.

The 74-000-square-foot project includes new interior circulation routes that connect with other campus buildings, three-storey additions on the west and east ends of the existing building, and student- and school-related communal space, which boosted the number of classrooms from seven to 13.

Completed in 2019, the $22-million project’s most visually arresting feature is the two-storey glass atrium at the west end of the complex.

The newly glazed wall opens the faculty lounge to the adjacent corridor; formerly, a narrow sidelight beside the door was the only visual connection. Other improvements include drywall that gives a warmer feeling than the formerly exposed cinderblock wall, and new millwork, furniture, LED lighting and a cleaner colour palette. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.

Serving as a work/meeting space for students and a much-needed venue for events and presentations, it also provides GSB with a new identity facing the main ceremonial entrance to the university.

Taro Hall’s upgrades feature a new security system and devices to meet university standards, such as accessible washrooms, CCTV, Code Blue (emergency phone) stations and proximity card readers.

Classroom renovations offer upgraded lighting, finishes and millwork, and sprinkler replacement. To reduce energy consumption, the HVAC system is equipped with enthalpy wheels and room-occupancy sensors.

Oblique view of the second-floor east corridor showing the new custom benches. Cove lighting along the walls and the ceiling light slot animate the space. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.

The existing structure, built in 1991 and designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, was created “back in those times when universities were desperate to build buildings but didn’t have a lot of money, so it was pretty tired,” says +VG Project Architect Chris Hall.

“We brought a contemporary palette of materials and forms to the building. We played off the rusticated nature of the original building’s split-face block with a taut and tight skin that speaks to the newer buildings on campus,” he says of the façade’s slick curtain wall and smooth-honed limestone cladding.

View from inside the circulation gallery looking west toward the atrium. The gallery acts as an extension of the atrium thanks to the custom benches between the columns, which are popular meeting places for friends. The benches have power and USB outlets. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.

Connecting the east and west additions is a new glazed gallery created by enclosing a formerly windswept, covered colonnade. Hall describes the gallery as his favourite space as it links two sides of the building in a dramatic, intuitive way.

The architect maintained the time-honored business-school classroom configuration of desks in a tiered horseshoe, which permits students to see each other and the instructor.

However, he says, “There’s resistance within the university to make any classroom faculty-specific. They want to be able to use them for various faculties if they can book them.”

In a win-win solution that pleased all stakeholders, the new classrooms retain the traditional pedagogical preference for the tiered horseshoe but achieve the tiering by varying the height of the desks rather than stepping the floor.

Desks in a tiered horseshoe configuration, a specialty of business schools, permit students to see each other as well as the instructor. The new classrooms evoke the traditional tiered floor configuration by using varied-height, readily removable desktop millwork while providing flat floors for flexible future use. Photography by James Morley/A-Frame.

Another challenge was construction logistics, he says. “There was nowhere to go. The school had to continue operating in this building. They looked at the potential for swing space and the cost was prohibitive.”

To that end, +VG Project Manager Nicole Crabtree developed a seven-phase construction plan that would accommodate occupation during construction.

The +VG Architects project team included Peter Berton, Partner-in-Charge. Lead consultants were Cooper Construction, construction manager; Stephenson Engineering, structural; Crossey Engineering, mechanical and electrical; and MHBC Planning, Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, landscape.

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