In June 2011, the Government of Ontario committed $72.6 million for the construction of a new home for Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business and Economics and the Department of Mathematics. The grant was a tremendous acknowledgement of the government’s confidence in Laurier to provide leading-edge education in business and entrepreneurship and to help advance the economic prosperity of the nation. Laurier has responded to the government’s investment in our university with a major capital campaign to Build Canada’s Best Business School. The money raised through the campaign, including the government grant, is funding key capital and programming needs of the School of Business and Economics.
In April 2015, Mike Lazaridis, Canada’s renowned business executive, technology entrepreneur and philanthropist, pledged $20 million to Laurier to create the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises. This critically needed management institute, scheduled to open in 2016, will support the growth of a globally competitive technology industry in Canada. His gift also provided significant support for the construction of the new facility. In honour of Mike Lazaridis’ tremendous generosity, Laurier students will now be attending the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics and the new facility has been re-named as Lazaridis Hall.
Through its innovative design and technological capabilities, Lazaridis Hall will develop Canadian business education for a global economy driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. The Lazaridis School of Business & Economics, with our outstanding academic programs, is in an ideal position to meet this educational challenge. Our students live and learn in the heart of Canada’s Technology Triangle, one of the most dynamic and innovative technology clusters in North America. Waterloo produces over $30 billion in annual technology revenues and over 67 percent of Canada’s new startups. In the midst of this tremendous economic growth, Laurier will support our region and our nation with business managers who will be exceptionally skilled in leading new ventures to worldwide success.
Lazaridis Hall will have a beautiful, functional architectural design, making it a landmark in the city and an important venue for engagement with Waterloo Region’s businesses and high tech community.
Lazaridis Hall is a building designed for student collaboration; to encourage all the potential insight and innovation that can come from continually interacting and sharing information. Its virtual outreach capabilities will far exceed any other teaching facility in Canada. While other learning institutions are just beginning to work with “active learning classrooms,” the vision behind Lazaridis Hall is to create an “active learning building” that will allow for a cutting-edge experience of collaborative education. The technology that supports active learning will allow our students to experience a highly sophisticated version of the “flipped classroom” teaching method. In this approach, lecture time can be traded for class collaboration on assignments. Whenever the teaching calls for it, students can easily share their information from personal computers to large projection screens.
As the entire building will have built-in infrastructure to continually update and advance this level of seamless collaboration, presentations and information can be broadcast to anywhere in Lazaridis Hall – or anywhere in the world. Multiple projecting screens throughout the facility will allow students, faculty and industry professionals to link in anytime, sharing their valuable resources and joining in the discussions. Every room in Lazaridis Hall will be wired for active learning. The building will launch with multiple active learning areas and, as increased funding becomes available, the facility will become fully converted.
The benefits of this innovative use of technology will be tremendous, actually transforming the way our students will learn and apply their business knowledge. With an ability to share information on screens that can project from the auditorium, to the classrooms, corridors and the wider world, students and faculty will learn to continually blend business insight with virtual outreach. In addition to the outstanding academic achievements of Laurier’s business students, our graduates will also bring these valuable, leading-edge skills to their future employers.
The exterior of the building, facing University Avenue, will showcase a number of dramatic architectural features. The drum-shaped design of the 300-seat lecture hall on the second floor is the building’s signature feature and an exceptional feat of Canadian engineering. Multiple steel trusses, set in a triangulated pattern, cantilevers the roof and bears the weight of the second and third floors above. The drum will appear wrapped in wood, although the material used is actually a strong laminate. The drum will also function as a striking, curved roof over the east entrance.
On the west side of the building, another cantilevered roof will serve as a protected entrance to the university’s much-needed new auditorium. The engineering of this roof includes a 12-foot-high truss that will slice through the building, supporting its unique cantilevered design. The underside is wrapped in a wood laminate material, similar to the drum. This roof will lead to the expansive, glassed-in main entrance of Lazaridis Hall, which is easily accessible to students and the public.
The deep charcoal-coloured, zinc-panelled walls covering the length of the building will be offset by many full-length windows, which will help create a bright environment open to the activity of the street and city below.
The entire building has been designed to “live” right on the street, deliberately pushed forward to encourage easy interaction between Laurier students and the community. The sidewalk and glazed entrance areas seem to blend together. As visitors step into the main entrance, they will have a clear line of vision through the glass exit doors on to Balsam Street, at the back of the building. This cohesive design will help increase the sense of seamless transition from inside to out.
The welcoming entrance will be illuminated by a beautiful light fixture made in Cambridge, Ontario. Anchored from the third floor, a cascade of glowing light sticks will appear suspended in space. The tile flooring, a beige limestone from a local quarry, will feature rich patterns and colour tones. Sparkling natural light from the diamond-faceted glass roof will flood into this busy main floor, a high traffic centre of classrooms and collaborative space.
Entering from the main entrance, visitors will see the curved, wooden wall of the fan-shaped auditorium on the left that will serve as the Donor Recognition Wall. This featured space will hold 54 Christie Digital tiles highlighting the contribution of key donors and supporters of Lazaridis Hall. Stretching 30’ along the wall, the touch-screen, interactive tiles will invite students and visitors to learn more about the visionaries behind this state-of-the-art building.
Across the building, the bright lights and colours of Christie Digital tiles will also create the dramatic Leaders of Tomorrow Wall. This showpiece of 80 tiles will be suspended from the bulkhead of the second floor, also within reach of students and visitors. The interactive screens will feature content and images of student and alumni successes, as well as student activities, program information and more.
The Leaders of Tomorrow Wall will overlook the expansive atrium, the centre of the building that will serve as the main gathering place for students, faculty and visitors. The atrium’s comfortable furniture is designed to be moved about easily for group gatherings. In the north end of the atrium, a towering bamboo grove will rise through all four storeys, reaching to the glass arc of the roof. This simple yet dramatic feature will provide freshness and greenery to the modern design.
For special events in the 130’ x 60’ atrium, dining tables and chairs may be brought in to accommodate up to 400 people. The atrium will be larger and more open than the atrium in Laurier’s Science building. During events, the Christie Digital tiles of the Donor Recognition Wall and the Leaders of Tomorrow Wall can also serve as screens for projecting presentations and videos.
From the main entrance at the crosswalk, visitors turning to the right will immediately find two large rooms, each approximately 30’ x 30’ with 15’ ceilings. Both will have floor-to-ceiling glass walls facing the atrium, designed to encourage drop-in observation and activity. The first space, a hub for entrepreneurship, will be focused on all aspects of Laurier’s entrepreneurship activity, including LaunchPad. A glassed-in hoteling office space just in front of the hub area will be used by key faculty and administrators of the entrepreneurship program. The hub will have full active learning classroom capability. Participants in this space can gather at six tables, designed as collaborative media centres with the ability to project laptop content on to wall screens.
Next to the entrepreneurship office is the dedicated student club space. Laurier currently has 20 business and economics clubs on campus with more than 2,300 business students participating in their many activities. These clubs provide outstanding opportunities for students to test their skills against other students on campus, across the country and around the world. Each club will be assigned locker space and have full use of the six media tables with access to the projection screens. Another glassed-in hoteling office will be used by students and visitors. A small math tutorial space will exist next to the student club space, providing a focused study area that will still allow others to watch the teaching taking place.
The math space connects to the corner café, which will welcome visitors with a large fireplace and a striking ceiling of white waves and glowing lights. The café, which is located right underneath the lecture hall drum, will have seating for 80-100 people and ample capacity for “grab-and-go” food and beverages. A small kitchen will support special events within the building.
Next to the café, the extraordinary Finance Lab will feature a virtual real-time trading floor with 30 dual flat-panel trading stations, featuring Reuters BridgeStation software, real-time data feeds (or equivalent) from the financial markets, and capability for 30 Bloomberg keyboards. A data stream terminal will run financial analysis software.
A “video wall” consisting of nine integrated LED screens will project written material and images. The Laurier Finance Lab will accommodate up to 60 students. A small workroom adjacent to the lab, equipped with potential for eight Bloomberg dual-monitor terminals will allow 16 students to access the special software for homework and special projects. This exceptional teaching space, entirely walled in glass, will provide Laurier business students with invaluable, practical experience in the global financial markets.
The wide corridors surrounding the atrium and leading into the classrooms, Finance Lab, café and meeting rooms are designed to do much more than move traffic. Their expansive size and moveable furniture will encourage clusters of informal learning and collaboration.
On the north side of the first floor, overlooking Balsam Avenue, there will be a row of three 150-seat classrooms. One will have video conferencing capability; the two others will others have a blended learning environment, outfitted with white boards, projection screens and flexible seating plans to encourage greater interaction between students and their instructors. All three classrooms will have capacity for switching into a full active learning classroom, depending on funding. These rooms will have two levels of seating – rare in a university environment but ideal for maximizing collaboration on a large scale. The chairs swivel 360 degrees, allowing for students to easily pivot into groups, regardless of the number of participants.
The first floor’s new 1,000-seat auditorium will be a spectacular component of the facility, designed for exceptional sound, lighting and projection capability. Entrance to the auditorium will be from the main entrance on the west side, with the visually striking cantilevered roof providing an ideal, protected meeting spot. From this entrance, audience members can walk directly into the main floor with seating for approximately 600 people. The central 400 seats will be equipped with flip-up table arms to give students enough working space for writing and laptops. As much of the auditorium is recessed, wide ramps instead of stairs will provide access to the stage level and lower bowl, as well as to the second floor balcony area with its seating for 400 more students and visitors. The balcony can be sectioned off with a drapery track to support the acoustics in a more intimate setting.
The auditorium, with active learning capability, will be a highly interactive gathering space, serving as both teaching area and venue for special events. Presentations can be shared in all active learning areas and visitors can link in anytime. Skype and other visual technology are easily incorporated into the system.
The activities of the auditorium, and other locations throughout the building, will be supported by the third-floor projection room. This professional media studio, not often found in academic institutions, will be outfitted with electrical pathways, infrastructure and loading dock facilities to quickly and easily support local, national and international television broadcasts.
The auditorium, with its seating capacity, design and technology, will fulfil an important need for both the university and the community. It will be used extensively by Laurier and our partners for teaching, guest lectures, conferences and convocation. It will also be welcomed by Waterloo Region as a well-equipped, cost-effective venue for mid-sized community concerts, films and lectures and special events.
To reach the second, third and fourth floors, visitors will climb a free-floating staircase, a modern structure of polished stone steps enclosed with white, panelled sides and stainless steel railings. Elevators and ramps, throughout the interior and exterior, will also make the building fully accessible for those with physical challenges.
The second floor will have three double-tiered 75-seat classrooms, equipped with fully-swivelling chairs for easy collaboration. Attached to each classroom will be glass-enclosed break-out rooms for use by the faculty members and teaching assistants.
There is access on this floor to several of the building’s 10 cantilevered meeting rooms, which are projected into the central space above the atrium. Six to 30 people can gather in these advanced-booking meeting rooms.
This floor also accommodates the work of the faculty, providing office spaces that borrow light from skylights or the atrium room, as well as a faculty lounge/meeting room with a small kitchenette.
The third floor is designed as a shared space for graduate students and faculty members in Mathematics and Economics. Both this floor and the fourth floor are glassed in around the perimeter to reduce the noise level from the atrium and to better manage safety and security after hours.
This floor also features the main entrance to the drum-shaped 300-seat lecture hall, which will be a flexible learning space for teaching, conferences, large-scale lectures and panel discussions.
There are two 75-seat classrooms, fully equipped as active learning spaces. Adjacent to the classrooms is a large graduate study space. There are also three 50-seat math labs, many smaller study spaces for graduate students, and access to the glazed meeting spaces projected above the atrium, providing more collaborative space in a unique, exciting environment.
The fourth floor will feature the dean’s office, which will face on to University Avenue. The office will overlook a non-accessible green space; a rooftop garden on top of the lecture hall drum. The dean’s office, with direct access to the staircase, will also be adjacent to the main boardroom. This inviting boardroom will be equipped with high tech video conferencing capability, hidden within a discreet unit to allow for comfortable and relaxed taping of video messages.
There will be full access from the dean’s office to the outdoor terrace, situated on the roof of the auditorium. This lovely green space will be a refreshing venue for public and private gatherings, with eight-foot trees and plantings on various levels. The terrace will hold 100 people outdoors and a 20’ x 30’ event tent. The terrace will also feature a view of the city, a barbecue lunch area, stone bench seating, and connections for portable audio-visual connections.
In addition to the offices for the dean, associate deans and managers, the fourth floor will also hold three small meeting rooms and a fourth-floor faculty lounge to provide an area for relaxed collaboration. The remaining offices are mainly reserved for senior administration, faculty, and MBA and PhD students in Mathematics, Business and Economics.
Lazaridis Hall is designed for Gold LEED certification, with a focus on environmentally sustainable features. Forestry Stewardship Certified (FSW) building products will be used whenever possible. An underground cistern will capture rainwater off the roof for use as greywater throughout the building. High efficiency lighting and an effective use of natural light will help conserve energy. All lights have occupancy sensors, automatically turning on or off as people enter or leave a room. The chilled beam heating and cooling system will also adjust automatically, turning off and recycling air when no one is within the area. This cost-effective, energy-efficient system will also be adapted in an especially efficient manner for the auditorium. The heating and cooling will come from under the auditorium seats, ensuring that students and guests are surrounded by comfortable temperatures but energy is not wasted in the broad expanse of air flowing above the crowd. The tall glass surrounding the main entrance will have a bird-friendly application, with special markings to warn birds of its solid structure.
A solar-powered carport is on the site with electric charging capacity for cars, trucks and scooters. The roof will be ready to be outfitted with solar panels, pending funding, which would be placed on the east portion of the building, running north to south.