An addition and renovation to an existing building at the University of Waterloo, Kearns Mancini’s design of the new Health Services Building successfully establishes a dialogue between the existing and the new through building massing and transparency, while also leveraging programmatic elements within the entire building complex.
The project involved the renovation of the University of Waterloo Health Services Building as well as a two-storey addition with a new car and bus drop-off. Intended to amplify the presence of the Health Services Department at the University, the project acts as a new medical and mental health clinic serving the entire student population and their immediate families. The design of the medical facility consists of examination rooms, minor procedure rooms, blood labs, medical offices conducive to team collaboration, work spaces, and a full mental-health department.
The building is designed to respond to the shape of the current health services building by occupying the interstitial shape formed between the old building and the street. A new entrance is created in between the two buildings, which form a pie-shaped courtyard for informal gathering. The new second floor cantilevers over this courtyard, resting gently on a triangular precast concrete column which forms a bench at its base. The cantilevering upper storey holds a meeting room which faces the Grand River, while acting as a beacon for the main building entrance.
Gross Project Area
Renovation: 10,450 sq.ft Expansion: 21,197 sq.ft
University of Waterloo
Tony Mancini, Peter Ng, Tan Duong, Zhivka Hristova. Associated Architect: John Macdonald Architect
Shai Gil Fotography
View of entrance courtyard
As a means to integrate the existing building, portions of the existing building were re-clad, while its stucco envelope was re-painted, to complement the addition. The second storey that defines the main courtyard contains a light-well for the waiting and reception area below.Throughout the building, colour is used as a way-finding device, as well as a means to promote health and healing. Windows in the mental health unit on the second storey of the addition were designed to provide views on an anticipated green roof, intended to provide a moment of repose to patients.
While the building’s siting is both a function of its proximity to a 100-year flood plain and its relationship to the original Health Services Building, the massing of the building is sympathetic to the scale of its existing context. Meanwhile, strategic views of the forest to the East – which is part of the Grand River Conservation Area – and views of the university campus over the Grand River, ensure that a connection to the tranquil surroundings is made, for the benefit of visitors to the clinic.
Inside, offices, labs and meeting rooms are placed along the spine of the building that runs parallel to the street. An oval-shaped lobby positioned in the center of the building denotes the entrance-way and circulation arms. Custom millwork extends from the reception desk to the main circulation stairwell, effectively knitting the project together – becoming a way-finding element that guides the public through the building.
Kearns Mancini ensured that natural light, transparency and colour were used throughout the building, to promote the health and well-being of patients and employees, while making a positive intervention on the Campus as a whole.
I am looking forward to the grand opening of our newly opened Health Services. Your firm did a magnificent job of giving us a facility that looks great and functions beautifully.
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo