Surrounded by the beauty of Ontario’s escarpment, the Niagara College Student Commons, a 35,000 sf two-storey hub, establishes a heart for the student community. The double-height addition breathes life into the 1970s Welland Campus with new classrooms, welcome centre, food court, and student activity room, as well as a new north-facing entrance, a bold wayfinding/branding program, and extensive glazing that enables natural light and external views to uplift the student experience.
Playful details reinvigorate the campus identity, including X and O shaped pendant lights, whimsical circular LED lights that break up the ceiling, and supergraphics that are visible from outside. The oversized lettering, chevrons, and dots on the Commons’ glazed expanse give an instantly recognizable brand.
Green glass partitions and dark porcelain tiles define seating areas, creating niches for both studying and socializing. An event space with oversized white pivot doors is reminiscent of an open-air cafe. Blue felt acoustics panels above the doors inlaid with ultra-thin diagonal LED lights add a sculptural quality that demarcates the gathering space. Above the food hall, a stream of clerestory mirrors reflect daylight into the spacious corridor ensuring the space is airy all year round.
The lantern-like addition provides the College with an alternative entrance and backdrop of curved perforated metal panels that read ‘Niagara College Canada,’ giving students a sense of place and point of pride.
Location:Welland - Canada
Studio NameGow Hastings Architects
Lead designerPhilip Hastings
Design teamValerie Gow - Interior Design Principal, Jim Burkitt - Design Director, Hugo Martins, Project Manager