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Faculty of Health Sciences at River Campus, University of Ottawa

IBI Group developed the Master Plan and Schematic Design for the new $100+ million, 220,000 sq. ft. building, reimagining the riverfront Lees Campus for the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Health Sciences. It will bring together five schools of health sciences and foster interdisciplinary learning, collaborative research and vibrant student life, while setting out a holistic vision for a Campus of Health.

University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON

Incorporating the University's four transformation goals

Our vision for the project was driven by the four pillars of the University’s Transformation 2030 goals:

  1. More Agile
  2. More Connected
  3. More Impactful
  4. More Sustainable

The existing buildings could not effectively support the project’s vision and a new project mandate emerged, bringing the five schools of health sciences together with this transformative multidisciplinary building.

Designing a future-focused campus

The building’s architecture defines the new face of the University of Ottawa at the revitalized, future-focused campus, and presents a learning and social continuum extending from within the building to the outside. Expanding upon the University’s 2015 Campus Master Plan, this new facility:

  • creates an iconic anchor to the reimagined site;
  • acts as a catalyst in generating campus connectivity;
  • improves site circulation and movement;
  • densifies the urban fabric close to transit;
  • refines the campus and City’s relationship to the river; and
  • re-envisions the Lees Campus as the River Campus.

The architecture frames a series of thoughtfully landscaped spaces — the Arrival Plaza, the Central Courtyard, and the river-facing Healing Gardens — each creating multiple ways of interactivity between inside and outside, inviting participation and enhances wellbeing.

Working in collaboration with the University’s Director of Indigenous Affairs and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, native plantings honour the significant heritage of the area. Harmonious planting creates visual and seasonal interest and will define unique outdoor spaces throughout the year, while native meadow plantings will help to reduce maintenance, increase biodiversity, and support pollinator species.

Creating flexible spaces to support interdisciplinary learning and research

Singular and shared teaching and research spaces for Nursing, Rehabilitation, Human Kinetics, Nutrition and Interdisciplinary Health Sciences are envisioned in the new building. The amalgamation of the five health science schools was an opportunity to create technology-enabled, agile learning spaces showcasing interdisciplinary learning and research. The facilities included:

  • dry and wet labs for teaching and research;
  • meeting and presentation spaces;
  • spaces for student groups;
  • social gathering and informal learning; and
  • faculty offices and research workstations for graduate doctoral and post-doc students.

A highly modular planning and infrastructure framework anticipates future flexibility and allows research spaces to flex or administration spaces to adapt to labs as needs change.

A high performance, sustainable facility

Working from the inside out, IBI collaborated extensively with 26 stakeholder groups at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Facilities teams to generate multiple design concepts. This allowed the team to respond to functional program requirements and test ideas related to interdisciplinary education and research, site design and circulation, building massing, orientation and high-performance sustainability.

Parametric design tools were used to optimize the footprint and orientation of the building. This early analysis aided the determination of the best location for spaces, which would benefit from a high degree of transparency and connectivity with active outdoor spaces. A key goal for building massing, orientation and floor plan design was to minimize solar heat gain while maximizing access and views to natural light for its positive impacts on teaching and learning.

The building’s sustainable, low energy design follows ASHRAE Advanced Energy Design Guides and identified performance targets for a low thermal energy demand intensity (TEDI), low operational energy, and carbon costs. It achieved 16 points under LEED v4 BD+C Schools credit for Optimize Energy Performance.

Building the relationship between the University and Rideau River

When completed in 2023, the successful Design-Build team will have renewed a post-industrial site to transform the University’s relationship to Rideau River and its transitional neighbourhood context. It will build upon the energy and connectivity brought by the recently completed LRT station at Lees Station, bolster transit-oriented developments and physically and psychologically stitch together the Downtown campus with the River Campus, and make it a destination for the City’s and University’s communities.

A new generation of minds is reshaping the way we approach education at all levels of learning.

Find out more about Learning+
“Thanks to IBI for re-imagining an outdated post-industrial site and creating this extraordinary building that will enhance all aspects of research, teaching and learning for the Faculty of Health Sciences. The design creates a healthy and active building, with spaces carefully crafted to promote interdisciplinary learning and research between each of the Faculty’s five schools. Moreover, this building and landscaped site, with their adjacency and views of the Rideau River will become a landmark for the University and the City as a whole.”

Geoffrey Frigon
Senior Director - Asset Management, Planning and Real Estate
University of Ottawa

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