Project Essentials

  • LocationSudbury, ON
  • ClientLaurentian University
  • ArchitectJL Richards & Associates and Perkins&Will
  • Size30,139 ft² (2,800 m²)
  • BudgetCAD $21 million

Situated at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, an area historically affected by industrial mining, the Vale Living with Lakes Centre (VLWLC) is a comprehensive multidisciplinary research and monitoring institute dedicated to the preservation and effective management of northern aquatic ecosystems. Cutting-edge research conducted at the Centre contributes to the global database that tracks lake temperatures influenced by climate change and other factors.

The state-of-the-art laboratories provide the ideal environment for conducting advanced scientific investigations, while also serving as a picturesque setting for environmental workshops, conferences, and related events. Collaborating for the first time, a design team joined forces with internationally renowned scientists specializing in rehabilitating damaged ecosystems to shape the building’s design.

The VLWLC encompasses two buildings: the Main Building, a two-storey structure housing offices, laboratories, teaching spaces, and meeting rooms; and the Watershed Centre, a single-storey facility designed for field crew operations, storage, and specialized functions. Clad in eastern white cedar—a characteristic shoreline tree species—and supported by a structural frame of jack pine, reminiscent of the region’s ancient boreal forests, the building exemplifies the use of locally sourced, environmentally friendly materials.

Acting as a water filter, the building enhances Sudbury’s drinking water supply with stormwater leaving the site cleaner than it would be without this development, carrying particles that aid in reversing ecological damage caused by a century of industrial activity. As the VLWLC’s research emphasizes climate change, the LEED® Platinum-certified building maximizes energy efficiency and adaptability to a 2050 climate scenario.