Waterloo University of Engineering 5 and 7 / Perkins & Will
Description of the text provided by the architects. When we started working with Waterloos-listed engineering school in 2007, the faculty was struggling to accommodate unprecedented growth and innovative new programs within their existing inventory of obsolete facilities. This problem was compounded by the lack of space available for movement and construction sites within the boundaries of the campus ring.
Taking a master plan approach, we worked with the client to develop a new engineering area, transforming an unused perimeter area into a vibrant academic community with a new university entrance portal. Executed as separate phases over a decade, Engineering buildings 5 and 7 provide two highly flexible containers for interdisciplinary engineering research and study leaning towards a dramatic central atrium that provides space to celebrate the unique Waterloos culture. With their bold geometry and distinctive stained glass facades, the E5 and 7 establish the architectural identity for this key institution.
The architecture of E5 and 7 functions as an instrument for inspiration and recruitment, where the history of the school is constantly evolving. The complex is designed around the principles of pedestrian movement and connectivity for visitors, faculty and students. It starts with the dramatic curved bridge connecting the E5 and 7 back to the main campus, enabling the movement of projects and people on the LRT regional runways. Through transparency, multi-storey views and dynamic feature scales are encouraged, the movement and curiosity and work of faculty and students is constantly displayed.
Engineering 5 marked the beginning of the transformation of the Waterloos engineering program. The building is a hyper-flexible daylight factory, where the learning space and design studios do not see the student jobs of the Sedra Design Center. In this upper bay space, undergraduate students work in interdisciplinary teams on multi-year projects. As the new face of Engineering on the campus ring, the design of E5 gives special importance to the Student Design Center making students creative and practical to learn the new image of Engineering in Waterloo.
Engineering 7 is home to several spaces that connect students to the wider business community. IDEAs Engineering Clinic connects students and faculty in early and practical learning based on real-world problems. RoboHub, a modern 1000 m robotics test facility, features an advanced indoor positioning system, mobile environmental features, and a unique global fleet of humanoid, air, ground, and magnetically elevated robots. The Conrad Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship offers joint programs in engineering and business, serving as a platform for interdisciplinary research converging around entrepreneurial initiatives.
The exterior facades of the E7 and E5 clearly articulate different categories of space. Public spaces have a very transparent low iron glass that highlights student activity. Modular, adaptable spaces for laboratories and offices are lined with a fried glass skin that mimics the pyramidal volume of the anecdotal room of buildings. The fried facade acts as a virtual mask that creates a uniform look in a variety of spatial conditions. Highly responsive to the play of light, the façade is subtly transformed from an expression of day-sculpted monumentality into a dematerialized veil at dusk.
The atrium between Engineering 5 and 7 creates a large space for events and celebrations of Waterloos engineering culture. The atrium serves as a public domain link for the developing campus area, providing orientation in four cardinal directions. As one of the largest enclosed spaces on campus, the atrium provides a dramatic backdrop for undergraduate student foundation projects, serves as a signature space for University functions, and acts as the architectural forum where the Waterloos global network can converge, launch and celebrate.
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