As the demand for distance learning grew at Athabasca University, so did the need for an updated facility to house its administrative support functions for on-campus and remote researchers. A new three-storey Academic Research Centre replaced an existing 1980s-era building to address these pressing needs.

Project Essentials

  • LocationAthabasca, AB
  • ClientAthabasca University
  • ArchitectManasc Isaac Architects
  • Size72,000 ft2 (6689 m2)
  • Budget$30M
  • Sustainable FeaturesCertified LEED Gold

Celebrating the region’s timber-based economy, the team used wood extensively to achieve sustainability targets and a stunning architectural aesthetic. The new building combines energy-efficient building technologies with leading-edge networking and communications technologies to facilitate online and distance learning.

One of the centre’s most unique features is its exposed timber roof. Here, Fast + Epp created solid wood panels out of vertically-staggered standard dimensional 2×4 and 2×6 lumber. These panels were supported by glulam beams and steel struts, atop a three-storey concrete structure. The resulting clerestories and high window walls along the east and west façades ensure interior spaces are bathed in natural light – important for the North’s short winter days