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Lassonde Engineering School Revamped

The Lassonde School of Engineering at Toronto’s York University has just been redefined, and some of the changes are pretty groundbreaking. Not only is there an entirely new state-of-the-art building, but the educational programs have been completely restructured as well.

The new Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence officially opened its doors to students at York University in April of 2016 after four years of conceptual design and construction. York University is hoping that the new building design will allow them to better compete with other universities across Ontario and subsequently attract more students. The university is hoping that this project, in conjunction with a new chemical and bioengineering building set for 2018, will help fill the huge gender gap in the engineering field. In fact, York University formally set a goal to reach equal gender ratios by the year 2020.

The Bergeron Centre for Engineering and Excellence design was inspired by nature and final construction costs totaled around $69 million. The primary design metaphors were a rock (the sense of being rooted on campus) and a cloud (free and limitless). It was designed with sustainability in mind and is tracking towards LEED Gold level certification.

This new educational oasis for York University engineering students offers five levels and 169,500 square-feet of space that has incorporated numerous unique and innovative design elements, intended to create a “landscape of learning”. The window and metal patterns on the exterior, for example, are in a pattern that is mathematically derived and that never repeats itself. Attention was paid to every detail of the design and construction of the new Bergeron Centre. The lower levels of the five-story building house the civil engineering program, while the mechanical and electrical engineering programs occupy the upper levels.

New Building – New Programs

As mentioned, though, it is not just the building that got a complete overhaul. The engineering programs themselves have been redesigned too. The new educational concept is meant to more closely align with the real word demands of employers, who are looking for experience in areas like entrepreneurship, collaboration, and creativity. Students attending civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering programs at York University may be surprised to find out that the new home for these programs no longer contains any lecture halls. Instead, students watch lectures available to them online and come to the building to work on assignments in smaller and more intimate study areas, called active learning areas. The building design is intended to promote student collaboration and nurture a hands-on approach in its cutting-edge labs and learning spaces.  One of the rooms is a giant isolated concrete room used to simulate earthquakes and temperature extremes! There are also many areas with tables, chairs, and whiteboards throughout the halls allowing students and teachers areas for study sessions, a concept seen frequently in many tech companies.

Design with Meaning

The new designs aren’t just for the students to get familiar with. The teachers were also surprised at some of the ideas. There’s a specific common area, for example, designated as “student only” that takes up the perimeter of a floor, while the professor offices are huddled, windowless, in the interior. The idea, however, is to promote student teacher interactions and the concept has proven to do just that.

Best View Possible

The building occupies a prominent south-west position on the York University campus and provides unobstructed panoramic views towards the Toronto skyline. Anyone who is from the area knows how beautiful these views can be, adding another form of inspiration to the “landscape of learning”.

Nap Rooms? Really?

The new Bergeron Centre has proven to be an oasis for students and professors. The building has gotten rave reviews architecturally and most claim it will age very well. There is already promise of adaptation and growth with the planned addition of nap rooms, at students’ request. It seems that things are only continuing to become more exciting and cutting edge for engineering students at York University.

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