Sustainability, indigenous culture and contemporary design come together in Perkins and Will’s design for the new $85 million Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) at Seneca College’s Newnham Campus. Created in collaboration with the First [email protected] Office, the LEED Gold-targeted building features indigenous-led design and services, such as counseling and financial aid, as part of Seneca’s commitment to the Indigenous Education Protocol. In addition to cultural responsiveness, CITE is home to state-of-the-art engineering and robotics labs as well as an entrepreneurial incubator for students and industry leaders.

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long white, gray and wood college building

Located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the 274,000-square-foot CITE building integrates messaging about indigenous teachings and history throughout, from the punctuated terracotta panels lining the facade that reference Anishinaabe birchbark ‘memory chests’ to the vibrant, indigenous-inspired interior artwork. The relationship between these Indigenous stories with the building’s academic programs are visualized in eight graphic murals created in collaboration with design firm Bruce Mau Design that include a hoop dance, a pow wow, DNA sequencing and a map of the Internet.

Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario

white, gray and wood college building with a front facade of glass
lounge area inside a college building with tall ceilings and colorful tables

To achieve LEED Gold standards, Perkins and Will wrapped the building in glass to promote reliance on natural light rather than artificial sources. The facade’s punctuated terracotta boxes as well as the south-facing structural colonnade — held up by 13 columns representative of the 13 moons of the lunar cycle — help deflect unwanted solar gain. CITE also features a building integrated solar array, stormwater management cisterns, a biodiverse landscape design, locally sourced, recycled materials wherever possible and increased use of FSC-certified wood finishes for lowered embodied carbon.

colorful mural on a wood floor
students looking at a machine in a lab

“CITE presented the perfect opportunity to show how Indigenous knowledge can guide post-secondary education. To provide a more sustainable vision for future innovation, we paired themes like the Internet, space exploration and coding with Indigenous knowledge spanning seven generations,” said Andrew Frontini, principal and design director at Perkins and Will’s Toronto studio. “We organized the structural order of the building elements of the building to support these theme. As you walk through CITE, you encounter overlapping Indigenous and technological stories that initially might speak to different audiences, but over time our hope is that they merge together as one.”

+ Perkins and Will

Images by doublespace photography