Featured Project: Going Green Pays Off—the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College

Oct. 1, 2005
Laura Bordeaux

By Janet Wiens • Photography by Philip Castleton
The design of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College shows that sustainable design is a wise business decision.

Architects and designers often proclaim that sustainable design is good for the bottom line. Those looking for projects that prove the point should analyze the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), Toronto, as one example that sustainable design can be very advantageous from an economic as well as an environmental perspective. The $30 million, 150,000- square-foot campus fulfills the client's desire to have "a cost-effective design solution epitomizing wellness, healthyliving and sustainability."

"Prior to our involvement the client had purchased the site, which is adjacent to the Don River and under the jurisdiction of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority," says Tom Kolbasenko, Young + Wright's LEED® -accredited project architect. "It's a wonderful property that also includes a former Hebrew school that is a typical 1970s structure. This was adapted and combined with a new addition and parking structure to create the required facilities."

Kolbasenko says that adaptively reusing the 115,000-square-foot school was a key move for the CMCC. The school's existing pool and gymnasium allowed the CMCC to have these facilities at a fraction of what it would have cost if they were new. The client was able to purchase the existing space for $50 a square foot with the 35,000- square-foot addition costing $240 a square foot.

"The CMCC wanted a distinctive design, which we created mainly through the addition," Kolbasenko says. "While the majority of space is in the existing building we provided a new, fresh image for the college by focusing on the openness of the addition as achieved through the extensive glazing and other design features."

The Young + Wright design team reused more than 90 percent of the existing building structure and more than 50 percent of the building envelope. The existing building exterior was reclad in Tyndall stone while the addition has a curtain wall façade. The result is a striking presence especially at night when light from the interior shines out to the streetscape.

The addition's saw-tooth roof with glazing that faces north will reduce the peak-cooling load by almost 80 percent, which translates to a project savings of $3,000 annually. The roof's solid surfaces block direct light from the south while allowing diffused north light to enter the building's interior.

An atrium connects the existing building with the new and serves as the circulation node for key spaces, a communal gathering space and maximizes the flow of natural light to all of the building's four levels. A floating, skewed stairway is the atrium's focal point and emphasizes the interconnectedness within the building. The atrium begins on the first floor and soars to the third floor. First floor spaces in the addition include cadaver storage, which is secured and unobservable from the rest of the building. Two theaters, one with 200-seats and one with 250 seats enable the college to meet a variety of presentation and meeting requirements. Audio-visual systems are controlled from the lectern and the ceiling. The large theater has standing positions as well as seats to accommodate individuals with back problems. The pool and gymnasium comprise the majority of the first floor within the existing building.

The second floor houses the largest chiropractic bookstore in Canada, which is open to both students and the general public, executive and administrative offices and a cafetorium.

The main library is located on the third floor, which is also home to seminar rooms, administrative offices and classrooms for anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, neurology, and clinic and chiropractic sciences. The library has a fourth or mezzanine level for silent study. Students and other users have access to an extensive collection of book and periodical resources in the main library, as well as access to on-line resources that may be accessed through computer workstations.

The interior features a neutral color palette to further accentuate the openness and light within the space, wood accents, a cherry veneer-covered wall on the west side of the atrium, and varied light sources. Porcelain tile is used in many areas throughout the building with carpets used mainly in office areas.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)™ Green Building Rating System helped guide project's design. The CMCC has been registered for certification with the Canada Green Building Council. Based on the preliminary assessment the project will qualify for Gold status under the LEED 2.0 guidelines.

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