Richard Ivey Building takes top design honours

The Richard Ivey Building was recently presented with the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Design Excellence in Architecture, the top honour presented by the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) at its Celebration of Excellence May 13 in Toronto. The award recognizes the “innovative skills of Ontario architects in creating spaces, buildings and communities that respect and enhance the environment and enrich human activity.”

The Ivey Building, designed by Harri Pontarini Architects, was topped 10 OAA Awards Design Excellence winners, including Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the University of British Columbia’s Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre in Vancouver and Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre in Edmonton.

“This year’s Design Excellence Award honourees stand not only as beautiful buildings, but also as examples of architecture’s ability to creatively problem solve,” OAA President Toon Dreessen said. “From multi-generational housing to adaptive reuse of underutilized sites to flexible spaces that can be reconfigured to users’ needs, Ontario’s architects are once again showing their ability to respond to the changing needs of our communities and our society.”

The Richard Ivey Building was described as “a modern take on the traditional collegiate quadrangle … an elegant and timeless addition to Western University’s campus which carefully balances a respect for the campus’s original architecture with the needs of a contemporary learning institution.”

Respecting Western’s traditional Neo-Gothic architecture, the three-storey, 274,000-square-foot building is organized around a self-contained, central courtyard – a common feature in traditional Oxford-style academic architecture. The quadrangle layout also addresses contemporary sustainability concerns, maximizing natural light and collecting rainwater in an elegant reflecting pool. The solid masonry on the exterior further echoes the materiality of the university’s original buildings. The building uses 330 cubic metres of Algonquin limestone, 37 cubic metres of flagstone, and 227 cubic metres of rubble stone, all locally sourced and cut from a quarry in Wiarton, Ont. Other materials – such as walnut, copper, and Douglas fir – were selected for their warmth and timelessness.