Free Project Support from WoodWorks – Learn more

Algonquin College DARE District

Ottawa, ON
  • Bldg system

    Mass Timber

  • No. Of Stories


  • Sq. Meters


The vision of Algonquin College's new DARE (Discovery, Applied Research, Entrepreneurship) Building was to create an environment where students can develop the skills necessary to become entrepreneurs, innovators and catalysts for social and economic growth, while supporting Algonquin College's position as a leader in the field;The goal was to create an environment for students to develop the skills necessary to become entrepreneurs, innovators and catalysts for social and economic growth, while supporting Algonquin College's position as a leader in the adoption of Aboriginal traditional knowledge.

The 80,000 sq. ft. renovation will feature four separate but integrated program spaces on three levels surrounding an outdoor courtyard. A former two-story library in the center of the campus has been returned to its concrete shell and a new third level has been added; A new third double-height landing was added at the top, housing the redesigned library and learning center, characterized by a dramatic solid wood vaulted roof. The existing building was renovated to accommodate an exhibition area on the second floor, a storage area on the second floor, and a distinctive new staircase along the western facade that connects the three levels. A new one-story addition, adjacent to the main building, overlooks the courtyard and houses the Indigenous Commons. The design of the DARE building transforms the heart of the Ottawa campus, reflecting the contemporary vision of the college with its dynamic new spaces. The curved wood roof of the third floor addition rises above the surrounding buildings, creating a distinct profile that has become a beacon within the campus.
The use of wood was essential to achieve this distinctive roof profile. The solid wood components were a perfect solution to create this unique shape. They also allowed for quicker construction of the project, as the roof components (46' x 6.5' laminated wood panels and glulam beams) were made from the same material that was used in the construction. They are manufactured off-site and crane-mounted in a quick and efficient manner.
The design also incorporates several features that enhance the visual appearance of the wood roof structure: slits in the lower portion of the laminated wood roof deck panels to allow for watering pipes to be embedded in the roof, trenches in the outer gutter of the roof deck to allow for the watering pipes to be embedded in the roof;North to reduce the impact of the drainage system and the placement of the electrical wiring on the top surface of the laminated wood deck panels to power the interior lighting fixtures.

The addition of a new floor on top of the existing structure provided a unique opportunity to create a dramatic double-height space that did not conform to the existing floor heights or straight shape. However, it was also essential that the new roof not exceed the heights of the existing adjacent roofs to avoid adding snow load to the existing structures. The curved profile allowed the space to reach a height of 24' at the highest point of the center while maintaining a more normalized height of 12' along the north and south sides, thus achieving both objectives.

The curved roof is a striking expression of the new library and the learning center it houses. The wooden beams and exposed soffit create a warm environment.
and welcoming environment inside the library and add a sense of gravitas and scale. The height of the space allows for an abundance of daylight into the library with full height curtain walls at the east and west ends and clerestory glazing along the north and south sides. Interior linear and circular LED lights illuminate the wood deck, highlighting the warm wood tones and enlivening the space. The exposed laminated wood also absorbs sound and, along with the acoustic wood slat panels, contributes to excellent acoustics in the large open space.
Wood has a special meaning to Ottawa, with deep roots in the lumber trade. The DARE building at Algonquin College takes this traditional material and uses it to evoke this past and the new and innovative spirit at the heart of the project.

  • Construction Cost:


  • Construction Type:


  • Building Type:


  • Material Types:

    Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT), Glue-Laminated Timber (GLT or glulam)

Companies Involved:
  • Diamond Schmitt


  • Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates Architects Inc.


  • Brook McIlroy


  • Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Ltd.


  • PCL


Need help with your own project?

WoodWorks can help find a team, technical details, and more.