The Cummings Library and Collaboratory, Mohawk College

Hamilton, Ontario

Client: Mohawk College
Size: 48,000 sq.ft. (5,000 sq.m.)
LEED: Gold

Delivered on an aggressive fast-track design and construction schedule, the Cummings Library and Collaboratory defines Mohawk’s relationship with its neighbourhood in a dual role of gateway building and campus focal point. Landscaped courtyards enhance street edges and a fully-glazed, two-storey curtain wall animates Fennell Avenue with colour and student life. Our design provides a strong north-south link that draws students along a glazed pedestrian spine and connects with a central student hub. 

We organized the main block of the facility around an innovative double-height biowall and an open feature stairway. Classrooms, teaching rooms and the library are fully connected, multi-functional and provide a foundation for dynamic teaching and collaborative student learning. Our student-focused design centres on the Library and Collaboratory: open, airy, and welcoming spaces that attract and engage students, encourage them to spend time on campus, and promote the social interaction, collaboration, and collegiality that characterize a rewarding learning experience. 

The design of this LEED® Gold building is the result of close consultation with over 2000 students, and continues to be used by Mohawk’s applied technology programs as part of an experiential learning experience. Building monitoring systems collect data of everything from energy, water and fresh air usage to how the integrated biowall is performing. The building’s inner workings are fully exposed: mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, controls and manifolds for an in-slab heating system and the central mechanical room, as well as access to future photovoltaic panel arrays on the rooftop. Hearty native plantings, a hydronic piping system, full-height glazing, daylight and occupancy sensors, and thoughtful specifications are other examples of sustainable features that reduce carbon usage. The design process and the architecture for the Learning Exchange embody the institution’s goal to be a “community-facing, modern and sustainable college.”


  • City of Hamilton Urban Design & Architecture Awards - Award of Merit, Architecture & Sustainability, 2011