Centennial College A Building, Toronto

DIALOG, Toronto | Smoke Architecture Inc., Hamilton, Ontario

Photography by James Brittain

In 2020, Centennial College broke ground on its 133,000-sq.-ft., $112-million expansion of the A-Building wing of the school’s Progress campus. Ontario’s first LEED Gold, net-zero carbon, WELL-certified, mass timber, higher-education facility accommodates 20 new classrooms, eight labs and extra offices. At the expansion’s heart is the round room, a gathering and ceremonial space with a dome-like ceiling modelled after traditional Anishinaabe roundhouses. Light bathes the space from a clerestory above. A basket-weave of Douglas-fir ribbons clads the walls and ceiling. From the central ceiling oculus radiate 13 mass-timber ribs made of Québec SPF (spruce, pine and fir) lumber. They represent the moon cycles of the Indigenous 13-month calendar wherein each month has 28 days and there’s ne’er a leap year. The room features a wood-burning fireplace and button-assisted smudging: Pressing one of several centrally located green buttons activates the building’s ventilation system and exhausts any smoke.