The primary goal of the project was to improve public access to the county’s 22 different departments by adding a fully-accessible, light-filled and easy-to-navigate external ring to the existing dark and inward-looking administrative building. The new two-storey addition wraps around the existing building, taking full advantage of the surrounding views, day lighting and natural ventilation and creating interior courtyards between the existing and new structures.
Improved wheelchair accessibility and access to public transportation, as well as hybrid-use spaces and carpooling designated areas, the addition creates an enhanced public realm and superior ease of use. Secure bicycle storage and shower facilities are provided to encourage staff to cycle to work. The narrow floor plate of the addition minimizes the impact of the new footprint on the existing surroundings.
The addition provides much needed additional office space that maximizes picturesque views to the adjacent ravine as well as day-lighting, which was sorely lacking in the original facility. The design encourages interdepartmental exchange by providing a circulation system for the entire facility, not only for the new program, in a light-filled, naturally ventilated, colourful and inviting space.
The expansion’s impact on the site and on the occupants was carefully analyzed and thought out. The result is a LEED Gold building whose impact on the site and natural environment is minimal while the occupants can enjoy the benefits of passive design. Solar orientation and predominant wind patterns were analyzed so that the building adjusts to minimize exposure to the western sun while the forest to the North and West provides a natural wind break. In addition, the choice of exterior reflective metal cladding, high performance glazing and insulation are integral contributions to this sustainable design.
The architectural innovation that characterizes the project has led the way for green education outreach programs to be offered at the centre, as well as in-house monitoring and display of building performance in real time. The combination of engaging architecture and public education reinforces the building’s role as the flagship public facility in the county.