At a groundbreaking ceremony under bright June skies, York University showed off plans for a new $85-million Engineering Building at that will be home to the Lassonde School of Engineering, which aims to graduate “entrepreneurial engineers with a social conscience and a sense of global citizenship.” The 169,000-square-foot, five-storey building, which will open in 2015, will accommodate academic space for three engineering disciplines — electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering. Design workshops, project areas, classrooms and laboratories will be included in the five floors of space. Special emphasis has been placed on social and public areas that will encourage undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students to mix with faculty members and researchers.
“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind,” said Lassonde School of Engineering Dean Janusz Kozinski. “We’re creating a home for what we call Renaissance Engineers, not a pristine academic palace with gleaming lecture theatres – we don’t have any in fact! Students will be writing on walls, building robots, brainstorming business plans, and huddling in project groups. This building won’t create great ideas but it will give our students a home to do just that.”
The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, has invested $50 million in the new Engineering Building, and York University is investing $35 million in the project, including a recent $5 million gift from Ignat Kaneff, Chairman and CEO of the Kaneff Group of Companies.
The design of the Engineering Building, by Canadian architectural partnership ZAS Architects + Interiors, is conceived of as a cloud – a natural object that is both scaleless and ever-changing – and will hover over a landscape that combines artificial and natural landscape features. A prominent feature of the landscape, a rock inspired by the geology of Georgian Bay will provide a roof over design workshops and project areas. In contrast to laboratory spaces that support rigorous engineering research, the project areas will accommodate activities for creative design and production.
Currently a parking lot, the site for the new Engineering Building is in the southwest quadrant of York’s Keele campus, immediately west of the Scott Library, and overlooking the Stong Pond and Arboretum to the south and west.