Diamond Schmitt interiors lauded at WoodWORKS!

Two buildings designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects have been recognized for their outstanding use of wood in architecture. Lazaridis Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario received the Interior Wood Design Award from WoodWORKS!, the premier event in Ontario dedicated to wood design and construction. The National Arts Centre rejuvenation in Ottawa received the Jury’s Choice Award at the presentation on November 1.

Lazaridis Hall is a 225,000-square-foot facility for the Lazaridis School of Business, Economics and Math and related programs. It features major wood-lined spaces, including the atrium, 1,000-seat auditorium and 300-seat lecture hall.

Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo, Diamond Schmitt, WoodWORKS!
Lazaridis Hall atrium. Photo by Tom Arban

“Wood proved versatile for both aesthetic and acoustic considerations in these large spaces,” said Birgit Siber, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects. Built-in furniture also incorporates extensive wood elements ranging from continuous counters surrounding the atrium to a sculptural wall-mounted bench in the entrance. Tiered classrooms feature a backdrop of custom acoustic panels in red oak designed with 250,000 circular openings to attenuate sound and add visual interest.

Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo, Diamond Schmitt, WoodWORKS!
Lazaridis Hall aurditorium. Photo by Doublespace Photography

“Wood contributes to and unifies the dynamic curvilinear forms of the building where exterior veneer faced resin phenolic panels are closely matched with wood veneer panels on the interior curved walls,” added Siber. The jury said Lazaridis Hall “demonstrates ingenuity and resourcefulness” in its application of wood.

Lazaridis Hall, Waterloo, Diamond Schmitt, WoodWORKS!
Lazaridis Hall entry. Photo by Tom Arban

The WoodWORKS! Jury’s Choice Award went to the National Arts Centre. Three new wings have been added to the NAC, constructed of a prefabricated exposed wood structure. Laminated triangular wood coffers of western Canada Douglas fir also serve as the finished decorative ceiling. “The use of wood and glass provide a contrast to the original Brutalist building,” said Jennifer Mallard, Senor Associate, Diamond Schmitt Architects. “The geometry of the fine detailing in the wood coffers is inspired by the original building and adds a layer of texture to the 1969 structure.”

National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Diamond Schmitt, WoodWORKS!
National Arts Centre ceiling detail. Image via Diamond Schmitt Architects

Extensive wood application was added to the 2,100-seat Southam Hall to improve room acoustics. Hardwood flooring and wood seat backs replace heavily upholstered surfaces and the flooring is made of engineered white oak stained to match the dark brown of the original building palette. The reflective wood surfaces have brightened the sound and greatly enhanced the acoustic performance of the hall.