New University of Calgary research center features reconfigurable 'spine'

The heart of the Taylor Institute can be anything from a teaching lab to a 400-seat theater.

April 25, 2016 |
New University of Calgary research center features reconfigurable “spine”

The atrium of the Taylor Institute. Image courtesy Diamond Schmitt Architects. Click here for larger view.

Like many university buildings, the concept of student and faculty collaboration is stressed at the University of Calgary. For its new Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, Toronto-based architect Diamond Schmitt Architects wanted to make it as easy as possible to achieve that.

The “spine” of the building, a large light-filled space featuring two cantilever projections, can be reconfigured on a day-to-day basis. By using mobile technology and popping out some hidden seats, students and faculty can make the spine a 400-seat theater, a flat-floor gathering spot, a teaching lab, or a community meeting area—whatever is needed.

“The spine is simple in its clarity, but certainly not in its design,” Diamond Schmitt Principal and Project Architect, Matthew Lella, said in a statement. “Vierendeel trusses don’t have diagonal beams, which allows for enhanced visibility through clerestory glass.”

The rest of the building plays off the spine, with an amphitheatre, “hanging pods” (six- to eight-person study rooms), learning studios, and outdoor social areas attached to the space.

The Taylor Institute opened on April 18. Diamond Schmitt is the design architect and Gibbs Gage is the architect of record.

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