Story by Bonnie Schiedel, Photos by Adrian Lysenko
Confederation College’s newest building, the $19-million, 45,000-square-foot TEC Hub, opened in October. TEC stands for Technology, Education, and Collaboration, and the building houses three main clusters: innovation and incubation, advanced manufacturing technology, and industry skills and sustainability instruction. It’s home to the aerospace manufacturing program and the College’s engineering technology programs, and will provide opportunities for skilled trades programs as well. Needless to say, the building has to hold a lot of big and varied equipment, as well as create an environment to foster really cool ideas and approaches.
To that end, the TEC Hub was carefully planned with a variety of zones and workshops, like the Manufacturing Innovation zone, the CNC and Automation workshop (CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, or cutting tools controlled by computer), the Prototyping and Project workshop, an Assembly and Sheet Metal workshop, and Metrology room. The east part of the building is designated for outside research groups. Each workshop has large glass overhead doors so you can see the action, and there are openings cut in the walls at different points so students and teachers can view various mechanical systems at work in the building.
“It’s all about live learning,” says project architect Mark Greatrix of Stantec in Winnipeg. Greatrix and his colleagues also planned for collaborative spaces throughout the building, and in particular the “collaboration corridor” that is the main street of the building, with standing desks so you can easily pull out a laptop or drawings.
Aesthetically, the building combines steel and wood. “The steel gives it an industrial aesthetic, but it’s also a very economical building system,” says Greatrix. “We also used a lot of glued laminated timber, or glulam, for the main public spaces to bring warmth, texture, and visual interest.” One of the college’s mandates is to make Indigenous learners feel comfortable and welcome, and Greatrix and his team met with Elder Gerry Martin for insights. Various patterns and colours used throughout the building celebrate Indigenous culture, with references such as the colours of the medicine wheel and circular elements that represent gathering and collaboration.
“It was a fascinating project,” says Greatrix. “It’s very gratifying to see the students using it and I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes of their work.”