With construction of the Spadina Subway extension in full swing, York University students will soon be able to take the train straight to the campus. Students of the Lassonde School of Engineering will have it even sweeter. On Thursday, the University celebrated the official topping out of the $60 million Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence

The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, image courtesy of ZAS Architects

Designed by ZAS Architects, in collaboration with Arup Engineering and Scott Torrance Landscape Architects, the five-storey building will contain nearly 167,500 square feet of learning space for the civil, mechanical and electrical engineering programs.

The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, image courtesy of ZAS Architects

The plans for a new building have been in the works for years. "The school was longing for a new home and needed a new identity," said Janusz Kozinski, Founding Dean of the Lassonde School of Engineering. Studio spaces, lounge areas, teaching labs, workshops and collaborative classrooms will all be contained within the structure, which has been dubbed 'The Cloud' by faculty and students for its unique shape. 

The building has now reached its final height, image by Marcus Mitanis

Topping out ceremonies often include the hoisting of a tree to the roof of the building, a tradition dating back to 8th Century Scandinavia, which at the time represented recognition of the forest gods. Today, the rite is more commonly associated with growth and good luck, with a fir tree often being used to reflect the hope of an everlasting life for the building. Flags and streamers are also often attached to the tree by workers before it is hoisted. 

Marcus Gillam thanks the workers involved in the project, image by Marcus Mitanis

In speeches preceding the tree raising, representatives from York University and the construction management companies Laing O'Rourke and Gillam Group spoke about the importance of the building and thanked workers for their efforts. "Construction projects are never easy, there are always challenges," said Marcus Gillam, President and CEO of Gillam Group. "Despite these challenges, including adverse weather and a very complex design, the building has been erected in blistering speed." 

The tree is raised to the top floor, image by Marcus Mitanis

Symbolic of the relationship between the UK engineering group Laing O'Rourke and the Canadian companies involved in the development, the flag of England accompanied the Canadian flag as the tree was raised. 

Workers watch the ceremonial topping out, image by Marcus Mitanis

"The Topping Out Ceremony was a successful celebration of the impressive collective efforts that have allowed the building to begin to express its unique character and presence on campus,"  said Costas Catsaros, Associate at ZAS Architects. 

The tree is secured on the edge of the building, image by Marcus Mitanis

Following the topping out, attendees were treated to a festive meal and drinks, while also being asked to sign a set of hardhats that will be given to the Lassonde School of Engineering as a momento. 

Construction workers were encouraged to sign hardhats which would be presented to the Lassonde School, image by Marcus Mitanis

Upon completion, the building will be one of the most unorthodox on the campus. The interiors have been designed to eliminate the traditional classroom and lecture experience. With no lecture halls, spaces are open and students are encouraged to participate in active learning sessions with their professors.

Interior spaces offer students a unique learning experience, image courtesy of ZAS Architects

Following an $8 million donation by Doug and Sandra Bergeron, the facility was named in their honour. Doug Bergeron, a York University computer science graduate, and his wife, previously donated $2 million in 2012 to create the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology program. With the help the facility has received, it is scheduled to open in August 2015, giving students the opportunity to take advantage of the spaces in time for the new school year. 

The facility is set to open August 2015, image by Marcus Mitanis

For more information about the project, check out the dataBase file linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Visit the associated Forum thread or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of the page. 

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