Student success by design: Welland Campus Student Commons wins international award
A popular student hub at Niagara College is now an internationally award-winning space.
On October 23, the Welland Campus Student Commons – designed by Toronto-based architecture and interior design studio, Gow Hastings Architects– was announced as the Public Space Design winner in the prestigious Society of British and International Interior Design (SBID) International Design Awards 2020.
“This international achievement recognizes Gow Hastings and Niagara College as leaders in putting students first. The Welland Student Commons is a welcoming, accessible hub for students to cultivate community and create memorable on-campus experiences,” said Philip Hastings of Gow Hastings, who was the partner in charge of the Welland Campus Student Commons project. “We couldn’t be happier that our international peers have honoured a project that represents the importance, and possibilities, of student-centred design.”
The Student Commons was part of a $15-million addition and renovation to the Welland Campus Simcoe building, and the College’s $64-million campus redevelopment project that provided new and expanded facilities at the Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. College staff and students worked closely with Gow Hastings to create a modern, expanded space for students to eat, socialize and collaborate, and it became an instant hit on campus when it opened in September 2018.
“We applaud Gow Hastings on this prestigious award for a project that not only achieves design excellence but has been transformational for our Welland Campus,” said Pam Skinner, NC’s senior vice president, College Operations. “We are thrilled about how this state-of-the-art, student-centred space not only beautifies our campus, but enhances the student experience, and has been embraced by our College community and beyond. It is truly a testament to our commitment to student success.”
The 35,000-square-foot space includes a cafeteria, retail space, activity room, welcome centre and open spaces for learning and study, with hotel-style amenities such as super-scaled LED monitors and a gas fireplace. The addition also provides the College with an alternative entrance.
“Fun and energetic design features set the Student Commons apart as an award-winning space,” noted Hastings. “High clerestories, large mirrors, and sweeping expanses of glass bathe the space in natural light, while playful details including supergraphic chevron and dots, green glass, warm wood, and blue felt, inject the Commons with liveliness that encourages activity and connection.”
In September, the Student Commons was announced as a finalist for the SBID award – known as an unparalleled marquee of industry excellence for the winners. The 2020 SBID International Design awards drew talent from 49 countries around the world. All categories were assessed by panels of leading industry experts who looked for outstanding examples of technical content and aesthetic creativity, and invited the public to cast votes for the finalists.
In addition to winning the SBID Award, the Welland Campus Student Commons was recently featured in The Education Snapshots – a monthly digest of the latest education designs – and was shortlisted for the FX Design Awards 2020 (Public Sector category).
Its success follows the footsteps of the Student Commons at NC’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Also designed by Gow Hastings, the NOTL 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).
For information about the SBID Awards visit internationaldesignexcellenceawards.com/.
Niagara College offers more than 130 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.