College of New Caledonia – Heavy Mechanical Trades Training Facility, Prince George

Office of Mcfarlane Biggar Architects + Designers, Vancouver

Photography: Latreille Architectural Photography

This region of northern British Columbia supports a variety of resource-based industries that operate in the surrounding rugged natural landscapes, and many of these industries depend on the use of sophisticated large-scale vehicles and equipment. In response, the College of New Caledonia added a new building to its Main Campus that includes state-of-the-art workshops, engine testing labs, tool and heavy equipment training and storage, and computer spaces to provide both training and the development of expertise to service this critical equipment. Both employing and re-interpreting a design vernacular of industrial typologies, the superstructure is defined by exposed steel and masonry, celebrated for its rawness, plus other small material embellishments such as blackened steel, locally sourced veneered plywood, and a weathered steel façade. Balancing this robust palette is a bold interplay of solid and void highlighted by the abundant use of daylight from the low arc of the northern sun. Low building maintenance, high-durability, and the acknowledgement that the college is principally a winter campus were additional aspects of the brief.