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City Smarts

NorQuest College transforms its city centre campus and student experience with a new learning centre.

Edmonton, Alberta

A true college experience

As the first new building for NorQuest in almost 50 years, the Singhmar Centre for Learning is all about the students. With new student services, spaces to study and meet students from other programs, an expansive daycare and spaces to let students be themselves, this building provides NorQuest students with a true college experience.

Volume, views, and vertical circulation

The design aims to break down barriers and connect students; the stimulus for community building within the campus and the neighbourhood. The plan of the learning centre ties directly into the double corridor organization of the adjacent Heritage Tower, gaining the benefits of spatial and circulation efficiency. The building section, however, is much different, weaving volumes, views and vertical circulation together to create transparency into classrooms, student services, and the central atrium.

Upward mobility

The concept of a highly interconnected vertical campus informs all aspects of the design, from program adjacencies to the building systems. When you look up through the centre's sun-filled atrium, you'll see into specialized classrooms, the library and media centre, and study spaces.

Green design that borrows from the neighbour

All classrooms are naturally ventilated with operable windows connected to the building management system for pre-cooling of the building’s internally exposed concrete mass by nighttime flushing. During the daytime, natural draft is facilitated through the interconnected lounges driven by a rooftop solar chimney. As part of the project, the head-end systems of Heritage Tower were redesigned to free up heating, cooling, and emergency power capacity to serve the new Learning Centre with a resulting net energy and cost savings. Additional green features include water harvesting, low volume fixtures, a high-performance building envelope, low environmental impact products and materials, and key program adjacencies such as locating heat generating computer labs away from the building exterior to reduce cooling loads.

Course material

The materials of the Learning Centre continue the theme of reinterpretation and openness. Concrete is used in pre-cast form to reference Heritage Tower, but also in its exposed cast-in-place form to reinforce the openness of the new building. Glazing is used in full curtain walls to further the sense of transparency. Metal panel is used on the building core to visually accent the circulation spine tying the two building masses together.

Project facts

Size: 22,500 sq. m.
Completed: September 2017
Collaborators : ISL Engineering and Land Services Ltd.
Cost : $192.3 Million
Client: NorQuest College
Builder: PCL
LEED: LEED Gold Certified

Achievements & Awards

Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) - Award of Excellence - Outstanding Millwork Over $500,000

Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) Award of Excellence: Buildings - Institutional