Canadian Consulting Engineer

Award-winning new law school opens in Kamloops

The first new law school in Canada in 30 years has officially opened at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. The design by Diamond Schmitt Architects in association with Stantec Architecture received the 2014 Honour Award for Excellence...

July 29, 2014   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The first new law school in Canada in 30 years has officially opened at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. The design by Diamond Schmitt Architects in association with Stantec Architecture received the 2014 Honour Award for Excellence in Architecture for Building Additions or Adaptive Reuse from the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) and the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture for Education.

The TRU law school is located in an iconic two-storey addition to an existing 1970s building known as the Old Main. The architecture of the 45,000-sq.ft addition is inspired by the natural surroundings and First Nations heritage, featuring an undulating, 400-ft-long roof that echoes the landscape and shades the south façade. The roof allows for expansive glazing to bring daylight and views deep into the program areas.

A central atrium from north to south provides a sense of arrival and orientation. On the south side is a reading room and main teaching rooms. On the north two floors house the law library and offices, with views to Mt. Peter and Mt. Paul, sites held sacred by the local Secwepemc people.

Fast + Epp were the structural engineers, and Stantec were the mechanical-electrical engineers. In order to complete the shell of the addition on a very tight schedule, the roof was made of prefabricated panels and installed in just seven weeks. The StructureCraft panels were constructed using glulam beams, wood joists and plywood sheathing.

At four storeys, the addition was too tall to permit combustible materials in its structure so an alternative solution based on heavy timber and fire-retardant treatment was developed, using computer modeling of fire conditions to demonstrate the building would safely meet the intent of the building code.

The two existing floors of Old Main have been re-clad in cement-board planks that form curving bands. They reference First Nations basket-weaving traditions. A glass elevator tower at the north entrance acts as a beacon to complete the $20.2 million transformation of the existing building.

“This re-invention of Old Main is an important expression of TRU’s vision for the future,” said Thompson Rivers University president Alan Shaver. “TRU’s first graduating class of law students and each subsequent graduate will carry a tremendous sense of this place with them as they move forward with their careers.”

New law school Old Main Addition at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Photograph by Tom Arban, courtesy Diamond-Schmidt Architects


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