The Centennial College in Toronto will soon make history with the addition of Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass timber college building. Designed in collaboration with construction services company EllisDon as well as architecture firms Dialog and Smoke Architecture, the Progress Campus A Block expansion building will also be notable for its emphasis on indigenous culture-inspired design. The $105 million project is expected to open in 2023.

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Established in 1966, Centennial College is Ontario’s first public college and primarily serves the eastern portion of the Greater Toronto Area with five campuses. The proposed net-zero carbon building has been conceived as a new gateway structure for Centennial’s Progress Campus and as an expansion of the A Block building to provide over 150,000 square feet of new and renovated space to help meet the anticipated growth in student enrollment.

Related: Canada’s largest net-zero energy college building opens in Ontario

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The building design follows the Canadian concept of “two-eyed seeing,” which uses a lens of both indigenous knowledge and Western culture. Examples of this can be seen by the placement of the building entrance to the east, which is informed by regional Anishinaabe architecture, and the insertion of a central Indigenous Commons that opens up to a central courtyard with native plantings. The building’s active multi-story hub, called the Wisdom Hall, will also connect students, staff and visitors to Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe creation stories.

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Instead of steel or concrete, sustainably harvested mass timber will be used to construct the building. The engineered wood will have the benefit of carbon sequestration to help the building achieve its net-zero carbon status. “This project will be a clear demonstration of how higher-education facilities can make an important contribution to reducing environmental harm by eliminating CO2 emissions,” said Craig Applegath, project principal at Dialog. “Its zero-carbon emissions design, and its ability to store thousands of tonnes of carbon in its sustainably harvested mass timber wood structure, will be an important precedent in both Canada and around the world.”

+ Centennial College

Images via Dialog

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