Construction on a multimillion-dollar capital project is about to get underway at Seneca Polytechnic.
Once complete, the building will be a state-of-the-art home for everything from wellness, high performance sport and recreational activities to counselling, athletic therapy and social gatherings. It will also host a new space for the Seneca Student Federation (SSF).
“It will be more than just a building. We really want to create a destination space where students feel a sense of connection and belonging,” said Gillian McCullough, Lead, Health & Wellness Centre.
It will be built at Newnham Campus on the site of the current Sport Centre and SeneCentre, which were constructed more than 50 years ago.
Its eye-catching design draws inspiration from the medicine wheel and drum circle – just two examples of how the project will incorporate Indigenous architectural form.
The circular shape of the design references the drum circle, which symbolizes balance, equality, wholeness and connection. The idea is that it’s in the centre, said Scott Stronghill, Senior Manager, Architecture & Campus Planning.
“And then the building radiates out like sound waves from the drum,” he said. “We wanted to achieve something unique.”
“It will be more than just a building. We really want to create a destination space where students feel a sense of connection and belonging”
The facility will be built with renewable materials such as sustainable mass timber and will incorporate solar and geothermal energy. In addition, it will have a feature to harvest rainwater and a green roof.
On the pre-design, Seneca is working with DIALOG, an integrated design practice known for building spaces that support collaboration, community and connectivity, and Two Row Architect, the Indigenous design firm which also worked on Odeyto, Seneca’s Indigenous centre at Newnham Campus.
The new health facility will be significantly larger than the current Sport Centre, allowing for a much wider selection of programming – including the ability to offer more wellness-related options for students and employees.
Plans are in the works to develop specialized programming that Ms. McCullough hopes will inspire people to take the first step in their personalized health and wellness journeys.
Outside, landscaped space surrounding the facility will provide opportunities to engage with nature. Highlights will include a central drum courtyard with a fire pit, an extensive arrangement of native plants and trees and a regenerative forest. In addition, there will be earth mounds and a teaching and leisure rooftop terrace.
Stronghill describes the Health and Wellness Centre as “the last piece of the puzzle in the redevelopment of Newnham Campus,” following the completion of the Building A expansion in 2011 and the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (Building K) in 2019.
Funding for the new facility is coming from Seneca, the SSF and the Student Athletic Association (SAA). The SSF and SAA contributions are thanks to capital fees contributed by students over many years.
Initial site work is underway and the Sport Centre and SeneCentre demolition is scheduled to commence this winter. The Health and Wellness Centre is expected to be complete by 2026.