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CIGI Campus

KPMB Architects

Urban economies in Western countries have become increasingly tertiary based as manufacturing moves out of downtown areas. Today cultural, educational and services activities have taken the place of heavy industry as the drivers of economic growth.

In 2001 the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo (Southern Ontario), together with the University of Waterloo and the Wilfrid Laurier University founded the Balsillie School of International Affairs, a study centre for global governance and international public policy. The CIGI campus now includes the newly formed school. 

The Institute is strategic from several points of view. The CIGI campus occupies part of the former Seagram Distillery site, until 1992 a major source of Waterloo’s livelihood. The new centre is both a link with the past and a sign of a new era, providing a service sector activity that gives a new lease of life to the downtown area and is part of an urban revitalisation project aimed at making the Waterloo region an intellectual and cultural powerhouse.

The Centre’s urban and regional importance is embodied by equally symbolic architecture. Program, layout, materials and technological solutions all contribute to making it a vibrant sanctuary harking back to the traditional academic quadrangle building with bell tower of Oxford University fame. The spatial typologies designed for the academic community include communal areas, like the bar and courtyard, designed for socialization and exchange, and more secluded environments for thinking through solutions. The campus reaches out towards the city of Waterloo with pedestrian paths that extend into the wider community.

Key to the architectural project was the requirement that symbolism and image be accompanied by functionality. Here the designers were adamant. A building where future solutions for world governance are sought must have innovative and exemplary systems...

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