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From car dealership to crime lab at Humber College

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A team that includes Gow Hastings Architects Inc. and general contractor GEN-PRO is converting a garage into CSI-inspired labs at Humber College’s lakeshore campus.
The new Centre for Justice Leadership at Humber College.
The new Centre for Justice Leadership at Humber College.

A team that includes Gow Hastings Architects Inc. and general contractor GEN-PRO is converting a garage into CSI-inspired labs at Humber College’s lakeshore campus.

Part of a three-phased renovation of a former car dealership, the project includes creation of a crime scene simulation lab — a small apartment surrounded by theatre-style seating — as well as a forensic lab where students can process evidence gathered in the crime scene.

Funding to complete the college’s new Centre for Justice Leadership is being provided by the federal and provincial governments as part of the knowledge infrastructure program.

Substantial completion is slated for mid-August.

“A car dealership and an academic building are quite different animals,” says architect Philip Hastings whose firm specializes in creating vocational spaces for colleges and universities that simulate real-life scenarios.

In order to accommodate the labs, two of the five columns supporting the garage roof had to be taken out and the loads transferred to the remaining columns via doubled-up steel beams.

The roof had to be temporarily shored up while the centre column’s foundation was replaced and increased in size.

“That probably has been the biggest challenge,” says GEN-PRO president John Dawson.

The floor, which sloped, also had to be levelled.

During one of the previous phases, classrooms were carved out of the 26,000-square-foot car dealership.

A new aluminum screen was put in place to shroud the west and south facades of the building. Large breaks reveal a lush green wall that extends from the entrance, across the building to a metal trellis.

“For a car dealership, you want as much glazing as possible on the front of the building,” says Hastings. “But that’s not really what you want in a college building. That is why we tempered the outside of the building.”

Compass Construction was the contractor on the first two phases.

The project team also includes structural consultants Jerol Technologies Inc., mechanical and electrical consultants, McGregor Allsop Ltd. and landscape consultants NAK Design Group.

In all, the centre will house six specialized labs. All labs are equipped with videotaping capabilities. Primary users of the crime scene lab and the forensics lab will be students enrolled in the police foundations program.

by Patricia Williams

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