Cooling Plant on Campus

Edmonton, AB


Project Description

Size: 7,500 m2

Cost: $35 million

Location: Edmonton, AB

Green: Awarded LEED Gold

The new University of Alberta CPOC facility gives definition to the edge of the Utilities precinct, and provides a new public identity for the campus District Energy System.

The University of Alberta required a new facility to support the needs of a growing campus. The location was to be a tightly constrained site at the interface between the Utilities precinct and several high profile campus facilities. Given its context, it became clear that CPOC would have an aspect of unusual public visibility, and so must integrate a level of urban and aesthetic sensitivity unusual for an 'Industrial' building. The project has sought to redefine typical expectations of 'Infrastructure', through a commitment to present a responsible urban presence and an evocative aesthetic expression - responding equally to client needs and contextual considerations.

A sculptural approach was taken, in which simplicity was emphasized in a bold formal gesture that sought to balance monumental scale with articulation at the pedestrian level. A scheme was developed which, in one gesture, addressed a host of considerations from accommodating operational requirements to contributing a sensitive urban presence and making a positive impact on the campus visual environment.

The dramatic tapered wing walls serve in part as integral screening for the large cooling tower units on the roof, as well as contributing to sun shading - and providing a signature element for the facility. The curve or 'lean' away from the public laneway is a gesture aimed at minimizing impact on the corridor by modestly pulling back from the laneway as the walls rise.


In addition to its primary function in providing cooling capacity for the campus, and its secondary function of providing maintenance shop and minor administration areas, the facility is also to house a small District Energy System Education Centre.  This centre is to be open to the public and will be the 'front door' for those interested in learning about campus Utility facilities and the District Energy System.

The project has carefully integrated green design principles - which can be a challenge in an Industrial facility. By paying close attention to planning, building form, glazing, shading and building envelope, the design allows for optimal daylight penetration in “people places,” while being mindful of energy efficiency and solar heat gain. The building’s enhanced energy efficiency and durability will contribute to its operational effectiveness and longevity. The design team was pursuing LEED Silver but our goal was exceeded when the project was awarded LEED Gold certification.

This project is an example of architectural design tailored to suit its specific context and aesthetic vision, as well as the operational concerns of efficiency and adaptability. The building is designed to accommodate equally the machinery and the people that inhabit it, through a design solution adapted to the pragmatics of utility without neglecting sensitivity to human needs.