Western University, Physics and Astronomy Building

The 1924 Physics and Astronomy Building is one of the oldest buildings on Western University’s campus. Pressure for new learning environments, such as multiple style classrooms, labs, and study rooms, as well as an additional administration area required careful planning to best re-use existing spaces and minimize new construction. For example, enclosing an existing four-story exterior courtyard created a year-round oasis shared by faculty and students. Simply adding a new roof equipped with skylights draws natural light deep into this communal space. Now, the interior of the building has contemporary learning and faculty spaces that create a range of formal and informal study space.

The design solution flowed from campus community consultations. Much of the conversation at campus presentations was centered on balancing the need for new spaces and technologies with maintaining the integrity of this heritage building. Together, we developed a program of restoration that not only preserved, but enhanced the existing features by revealing previously unseen historic elements and clearly delineating the new and heritage structures. 

The Physics and Astronomy building has been registered for LEED certification. Sustainable design features include the replacement of limestone-framed windows with high efficiency double-paned glass, the introduction of a green roof, and a new HVAC system. Completed in association with Perkins + Will (Boston).

Tom and his team were very responsive to our own ideas about the design and functionality of the building, and many of our ideas found their way into the final plans. The end result is a revitalized building that has had a very positive impact on our Department and become a centerpiece of the University.

John de Bruyn, Professor
Western University (Dept of Physics and Astronomy)