Niagara College student spaces continue to steal the spotlight in the design community.
Just weeks after winning an international design award for its Welland Campus Student Commons, the Student Commons at the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake captured an Award of Excellence from the Niagara Biennial Design Awards. Celebrating design excellence throughout Niagara, the 2020 awards announced 18 winning projects – among 68 submissions – on November 9.
“As our jury team reviewed interior design submissions, we took note of those that rose above simply solving pragmatic project requirements to achieve a truly unique public gathering place. The Student Commons at Niagara College’s Niagara on the Lake campus has accomplished just that,” said Niagara Biennial Design Awards juror Gordon Stratford. “The Commons submission presents a uniquely engaging and agile hub that reflects the energy of Niagara College’s academic community.
“Having personally experienced the Commons during packed open houses, active academic term weekdays and quiet times, the space is remarkable in its ability to morph itself and embrace such extremes of community use while maintaining its design clarity and character. For this, it rightfully deserves the award of excellence.”
The Student Commons has been central to student life at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus since it opened in 2016, doubling the space of the previous cafeteria. The contemporary student hub offers students a welcoming, social and collaborative environment. The project was part of a $65-million campus redevelopment designed to modernize learning environments, and enhance the student experience at NC’s Welland and NOTL campuses.
Niagara College’s senior vice president of College Operations Pam Skinner congratulated the team at Gow Hastings Architects for their latest achievement.
“As Gow Hastings continues to build on their track record of design excellence by winning the acclaim of judges at home and around the world, their vibrant student hubs are winning hearts within our College community,” said Skinner. “These transformational spaces not only beautify our campuses, they are truly foundational to student success.”
“This Award of Excellence recognizes the contribution of students to the diversity and richness of the Niagara region,” said Philip Hastings, partner-in-charge, Gow Hastings Architects. “The Student Commons was developed out of a need for dedicated student space on the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus. We could not have designed this award-winning centre without Niagara’s significant student community.”
Hastings noted that the Student Commons is an impactful space crafted from a series of small design interventions.
“The project transforms what was once a large, open gymnasium into a collection of comfortable seating areas set under custom light fixtures and a lowered ceiling,” said Hastings. “Finished with a nine-metre integrated video wall, these innovative features brighten and enliven the student experience.”
Building on the former Niagara Community Design Awards – which ran until 2016 – the Niagara Biennial Awards were launched in 2019 to celebrate the role of design toward the enhancement of the region’s unique and diverse environments. Submissions were judged on comprehensiveness, innovation, stakeholder engagement, vibrancy, quality of execution, contextual response and sustainability.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Student campus Student Commons has received numerous accolades since it opened in December 2016, including Interior Design Best of Year Awards, Honoree (2018); FX International Interior Design Award – Public Sector shortlist (2018); Canadian Interiors Best of Canada Awards (2018); Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario Award (2018); Interior Design Council Value of Design Award (2019); and IIDA Global Excellence Awards Finalist (2019).
In October, the Welland Campus Student Commons— which officially opened in September 2018 and was also designed by Gow Hastings Architects – won a prestigious Society of British and International Interior Design International Design Award in Public Space Design. It was featured in the October issue of Canadian Facility Management and Design Magazine, as well a recent issue of The Education Snapshots – a monthly digest of the latest education designs. It was also shortlisted for the FX Design Awards 2020 (Public Sector category).
Niagara College offers more than 150 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit niagaracollege.ca.