The Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC) at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a 170,069 square foot applied research centre and teaching facility that houses advanced manufacturing and testing laboratory spaces, acceleration spaces for small and medium-sized businesses, a 250-person multi-purpose lecture theater, classrooms, and collaboration spaces along with administrative, and industry partner offices.

Project Essentials

  • LocationEdmonton, Alberta
  • ClientNorthern Alberta Institute of Technology
  • ArchitectGEC Architecture
  • Size170,000 ft² (15,800 m²)
  • BudgetCAD $35 million
  • Sustainable FeaturesLEED Gold

The building was conceived as two distinctive wings each with their own unique structural system that was tailored to specific research functions. The single storey high head laboratory wing utilizes a steel frame system. While this appears conventional, a unique and innovative steel truss and girder solution was developed to simplify the installation and routing of the mechanical and electrical systems as well as provide future flexibility as the spaces are repurposed over time. A 6m clear working height was provided throughout the laboratory spaces with all mechanical and electrical infrastructure located within the large steel trusses.

A large 9m column spacing was developed to allow for open flexible laboratory spaces with a central circulation spine to access each bay. The trusses incorporated a robust HSS bottom cord to allow a researcher to hang equipment and easily alter their spaces without interference from mechanical and electrical systems or the need for adding additional structure. The 1.9m tall steel trusses allow for consistent large open spaces for the ducts and services to run. Structural, mechanical and electrical infrastructure was modeled three dimensionally early in the design phase in order to minimize costly site conflicts and ensure flexibility within the systems. Due to this early design and coordination, the site installation and erection proceeded smoothly.

NAIT is one of the largest polytechnic institutes in Canada, providing education in advanced technologies, business, skilled trades and allied health to more than 80,000 registrants annually in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, in Alberta as well as nationally and internationally. Recognized for the last three years as one of the top employers in the Province of Alberta, NAIT is one of Canada’s foremost trainers in technology-based education.

The addition of the Productivity and Innovation Centre to the NAIT campus will continue to allow NAIT to provide world leading research and train a highly skilled workforce. The sustainable technologies employed in the construction of the Centre will provide an efficient highly adaptable building that will be utilized for many generations.