Pavilion Study, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University

Toronto, Ontario

Hub of Innovation: In its early stages, the Net Zero Lassonde Engineering Innovation Hub is planned to become the hub of engineering life at York University. It will bring together front-line student services, student club space, student lounge, capstone fabrication space, project rooms/dry-labs, multi-format graduate collaboration space, and a new concentrated Dean’s suite. It includes meeting space for presenting to outside partners including event space. Flexibility is ensured through open space and raised floor system for services and planning to allow an additional future floor.

Navigating Heritage Features: LGA re-examined the site previously determined as infeasible for building. Through careful analysis, LGA devised a footprint that surgically avoids existing buried services offsetting an estimated $1M in disruptive relocations. The complexity of the existing conditions also meant navigating the campus heritage features of Campus Walk and not impacting two adjacent heritage buildings protected for the—massing, etc.—as well as two ‘heritage trees’ donated by a dignitary and finally avoiding logistic impact on the most used loading dock on campus – in part resulting in a rapid to erect off-site fabricated timber building.

Leaders in Sustainable Design: The sustainability target is an ambitious 75kWH EUI. The solar PV, geothermal, all-electric, near passive house envelope all contribute to a Net-Zero operational energy building (Zero Carbon Building renewable approach). It will utilize renewable technology and mass timber construction for experiential learning and demonstration opportunities. The building was designed outwardly to be a beacon of the best curricular and co-curricular engineering activity at York.

York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering has experienced tremendous enrollment growth and required a temporary space for the students to work on the final-year Capstone projects—a team assignment that builds upon the skills students have acquired and applies them to resolving a specific, real-world challenge.

York hired LGA to analyze the best prefabrication method for a 4,000-sf temporary pavilion for STEM learning space. The pavilion has two main spaces: a ‘club room’ where the student teams can meet up and ideate, and a studio space with a work bench, 3D printers and other small-scale fabrication tools for their Capstone thesis. Both of these spaces have built-in lockable storage and will be outfitted with easily reconfigurable furniture and lighting. Support spaces include a four-person administration office, kitchenette, and large meeting room.

Key client goals were to have the pavilion sit lightly on the land and approach carbon neutrality. LGA’s solution is an 11-module prefabricated steel structure with a foam-free, Passive House-comparable envelope. A cladding of polished and burnished steel ‘shrink wraps’ the form, evoking the precision detailing associated with engineering. To minimize site impact and embodied energy, the foundation is a helical pile system that allows for the pavilion’s complete removal at the end of its term and its redeployment elsewhere on campus.

The flexibility we built into the design will serve York University well in the COVID-19 era: the pavilion’s two open-plan volumes will allow for social distancing, and its robust interior finishes, which include plywood paneling, will withstand frequent cleanings.