The city of Hamilton, Ontario has been a hotbed of transformation over the past few years. The city’s historical legacy as an industrial centre persists to this day, yet it's adapting for the future, and Mohawk College’s new Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation is another example of Hamilton’s innovative technological sector. Mohawk’s Fennell campus will be the site of Canada’s largest — and Hamilton’s first — net-zero-energy institutional building when it opens its doors to students in September. 

Rendering of Joyce Centre, Image via Mohawk College

The Joyce Centre is one of 16 pilot projects selected by the Canada Green Building Council’s new Zero Carbon Building Standard. The building, designed by an architectural team lead by B+H and McCallum Sather Architects, embodies environmental technologies aimed at reducing the building’s carbon footprint. The cutting-edge technologies that define the centre as an innovative leader in environmentally centred design present themselves throughout the building. 

View of the completed exterior envelope and solar panel feature, image via Mohawk College

The outer envelope and the double-wall system were designed to maximize natural light and regulate the interior climate. The design creates an air and vapour barrier ensuring that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work extremely efficiently. Triple glazed windows, complemented by a highly reflective roof-top surface, increase the building’s thermal performance. Geothermal energy, one of the cleanest renewable energy sources, is tapped: the system emits close to zero greenhouse gases, stores waste heat in the summer for use in the winter months, and generates minimal sound pollution. The Joyce Centre has adopted this method, by including 28 geothermal wells that have been drilled 184 metres below-grade. 

Geothermal system, image via Mohawk College

In addition, the building has implemented a rainwater harvesting system where the runoff is collected by two below-ground cisterns that can supply the building’s water needs (other than drinking water). With 1900 solar panels installed atop the Joyce Centre and adjacent buildings, the photovoltaic panels support the building’s net-zero performance. The building’s orientation also allows daylight to be captured and distributed through a light well.

Roof-top solar panels, image via Mohawk College

The Joyce Centre is a collaborative workspace guided by the principles of learning through experiential industry placements, co-op work terms, and applied R&D. Lisa Bate, Principal Architect at B+H, expressed that the focal point of the project was designing “the building as an educator”. The cutting-edge facility will include state-of-the-art labs, workshops, lecture theatres, industry training centres. Most notably, the centre will serve as a living laboratory for students, as students will be the ones managing and maintaining the building’s systems. 

Exterior finishings, image via Mohawk College

The project encapsulates leadership in innovative infrastructure and environmental sustainability. The Joyce Centre is representative of Hamilton and its emerging identity as an intersection of blue and white collar sectors. According to Joanne McCallum, CEO of McCallum Sather Architects, the Centre celebrates the City’s industrial heritage, but also demonstrates the city’s shift towards creativity and innovation which “drives Hamilton forward”. 

Local Steel used on site, image via Mohawk College

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Related Companies:  B+H Architects, EllisDon