June 2019

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J UNE 2019 | 61 NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre – Lambton College RENDERINGS COURTESY ARCHITECTS TILLMANN RUTH ROBINSON NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre – Lambton College by ROBIN BRUNET D onna Church, VP, academic for Sarnia, Ontario-based Lambton College, calls her institution's new NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre "a hub of innovation," with "labs [that were] intentionally designed to be open and welcoming so that students, community members, and industry partners can see firsthand the educa- tion and training taking place." Opened in January of this year, the NOVA centre is the new home to all health sciences programming labs and advanced technology simulation. The 60,000-square-foot building features a 40-bed nursing lab, two intensive care unit rooms, two simulated advanced care suites, three active learning classrooms, a 140-seat amphitheatre, paramedic lab, and many other spaces. Brent Thomas, director of facilities for Lambton College, says the facil- ity was conceived over a decade ago as a solution to health sciences pro- grams scattered across the campus. "Then came a long funding process, during which NOVA Chemicals made a generous $2-million donation. We sub- sequently retained architects Tillmann Ruth Robinson, who had worked on a number of projects for us." Thomas notes that the planning and design phase involved exten- sive user group and stakeholder engagement and included extensive "visioning" exercises to achieve the goal of renewing and enhancing aca- demic and social environments. "We also took user groups on road trips to other institutions, to determine what worked and didn't work for those facil- ities," he says. One outcome of this year-long pro- cess was the ability of McMichael Ruth, principal at architects Tillmann Ruth Robinson, to design the NOVA facility so that virtually every room would serve more than one purpose, ie: the thera- peutic lab could also serve as an active learning class; the simulated apartment suites could be used by nurses, police, firefighters, and other professionals, and so forth. "This provided efficiency within the overall design," he says. This degree of flexibility even extended to seemingly benign areas such as the elevator – which was designed large enough to accommo- date stretchers so that paramedics and nurses could practice loading and unloading. "Also, each lab was designed with floor-to-ceiling glazing, so that even walking along the corridor would contribute to the immersive experi- ence," says Thomas. Ruth created three primary entrances for the NOVA centre with large angular overhangs acting as porches. "These have aluminum composite panel facias with warm Prodema wood panel soffits, which extend past the curtain wall into the ceiling of the second floor, connecting the exterior to the interior," he says. All of the public spaces within the building are characterized by sweep- ing high ceilings, which are expressed on the exterior through angular roofli- nes that move in and around the rectilinear program elements of the gym and nursing labs. "The extensive use of glass around the building puts on display the students and activities within," says Ruth. "The east and west facing facades include vertical aluminum sun shades mounted to the curtain wall to reduce solar gain. The signature frosted glass stairwell, which glows with backlit glass at night, anchors the centre of the east elevation: it rises 67 feet, which represents the year the College was founded, and acts as a natural ventila- tion tower by drawing air through the central atrium to its top." Southside Group commenced con- struction in January of 2017, and project manager Albert Frijia notes that the main challenge was complet- ing a four-phase project on schedule, with each phase critically linked to the academic calendar. "Another challenge was rain: the region experienced a very wet summer and fall, and this required taking out a lot of wet fill and replacing it with pit fill." The many landscaping features pro- vided by Arthur Lierman Landscape Architecture included a broad entry court stretching across the entire frontage (which involved the removal of an existing garden), and wide tread steps in the south courtyard cascading down with a zigzagging access ramp. Judith Morris, president and CEO of Lambton College, summarizes the sentiments of everyone involved in the development of the NOVA Chemicals Health & Research Centre by stating that it has "changed the dynamic of our institution. We've always provided outstanding health programs, and now our evolving teaching methodologies, coupled with our world-class train- ing facilities, will directly contribute to the provision of highly qualified pro- fessionals, impacting the future of the health-care industry." A LOCATION 1457 London Road, Sarnia, Ontario OWNER/DEVELOPER Lambton College ARCHITECT architects Tillmann Ruth Robinson GENERAL CONTRACTOR Southside Group STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT Hastings & Aziz Ltd. MECHANICAL/ ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Chorley + Bisset Ltd. CIVIL CONSULTANT TW Gray and Associates Engineering Ltd. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Arthur Lierman Landscape Architecture TOTAL SIZE 60,000 square feet TOTAL COST $20 million 1:00 PM

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