Wilson School of Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, B.C.

KPMB Architects, Toronto / Public: Architecture + Communication, Vancouver

Photography by Andrew Latreille / Adrien Williams 

The new Wilson School of Design fosters interdisciplinary communication and collaboration by positioning design studios, labs, open offices and shared collaboration spaces across all five floors. The interior is organized around a central skylit atrium where oversized glulam beams, evoking the post-and-beam timber frame of old industrial loft buildings (the kind that creative types like to work in), breaks down the scale of the monolithic béton brut building core. At the atrium’s lowest two levels, a wood-trimmed grand concrete staircase with deep treads and risers doubles as bleacher seating that is overlooked by glassed-in study areas on the upper level. Every campus needs a communal space like this, a place that encourages serendipitous tête-à-têtes and student demonstrations. Operable windows bring in fresh air while the atrium acts as an exhaust plenum. The project is on target to achieve LEED Gold certification.