Gow Hastings Architects shortlisted for the 2013 Architectural Journal Retrofit Awards

Gow Hastings Architects has been shortlisted for the 2013 Architectural Journal Retrofit Awards in the “Higher Education'” category for its  Humber Centre for Justice Leadership in Toronto. The awards ceremony takes place on Sept. 11 at The Brewery in London, England.

The other shortlisted firms/projects in that category are all located in England: Architecture PLB, LSE Towers Reception, London; Berman Guedes Stretton, Ramphal Teaching Spaces, Coventry; Chadwick Dryer Clarke, University of Bedfordshire Blocks H&J, Luton; HawkinsBrown , South Bank University Student Centre, London; Jestico + Whiles , 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London; and Shepheard Epstein Hunter, Stamford Court Conference Centre, Leicester.

HUMBER CENTRE FOR JUSTICE LEADERSHIP (Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning)

Dedicated to the teaching of forensic science, Humber College’s Centre for Justice Leadership enables students to learn the art of fingerprint dusting and other investigation techniques including shoe and tire impressions in a state-of-the-art forensics lab. The new lab will allow students to learn identification techniques using polygraph technology, criminal profiling, and photography. In this first-of-its-kind facility, students can study crime scenes and hone their investigative skills in the facility’s unique tiered 45-seat theatre with a simulated one-bedroom apartment for reenactment of crime scenes.

Breathing new life into a former car dealership, the school is a prime example of the college’s strategy of annexing neighbouring buildings to expand its lakeshore campus. The transformed structure offers versatile spaces perfectly conducive to programs, such as the Blood Spatter Interpretation course and the three-year Police Foundation program. What was once the dealership’s service area is now a crime scene investigation lab and the former showroom has been converted into classrooms, used for regular classes as well as mock trials. The various ceiling heights inside the facility pinch and expand the space to great effect, further disguising the dealership, while creating the impression of spaciousness and also concealing the sources for atmospheric lighting.

The original facade of the dealership is now shrouded behind a translucent aluminum screen, providing dynamic shapes to the building’s exterior. A green living wall cascades down the facade and is visible through large fissures in the screen. Inspired by the nature of the centre’s activities, the new facade gives the building a simultaneously alluring and discrete appearance. Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the aluminum screen also serves to soften the bright light that previously permeated the structure through the large showroom windows. The vertical garden provides a lush, natural contrast to the sharp sculptural shape of the screen and to the street’s harsh paving. After dark, the large LED sign projecting Humber’s wordmark radiates an ambient glow from behind the screen – providing both drama and safety to the surrounding area.