The International Centre provides students from around the world a welcoming space to study, grow, and foster relationships in a supportive atmosphere situated within the Lakehead campus. The 13,500 square-foot space was transformed into a vibrant learning environment to accommodate the growing enrollment of international students at Lakehead University.
The goal was to create a space to provide students of different nationalities and diverse cultures with the opportunity to live and learn together in a community of mutual respect, understanding and international friendship. Working within the existing parameters of the Lakehead Patterson Library, the International Centre acts as a flexible environment, accommodating both structured and unstructured educational and social activities for students, staff and faculty.
The program includes a combination of classrooms, administrative spaces, lounge areas, and support spaces. Modern learning and study needs were carefully considered, providing visitors with quiet private spaces as well as more public shared zones, with an opportunity for future growth and reconfiguration if needed.
Classrooms were located on the periphery, allowing natural light and views to the outside, while the lounge was placed near high traffic areas to encourage people to meet and connect with one another. Circulation space was an important element during the design process, as it becomes an opportunity for unexpected dialogue and exchange as individuals flow through the various spaces.
For many of these students English will be a second language, therefore creating pockets of public space, such as the linear lounge along the corridor, will help promote interaction. Aside from providing a bright, inviting space for Lakehead University, an English Language Program was developed alongside two independent user groups as part of the International Program for the Thunder Bay Campus.
The initial phase of design for the English Language Program is anticipated to accommodate 150 students, with planning and programming for an expanded program of 300 students and associated staff. The International Centre now acts as a social hub for these new students, providing easy access to information and support as they integrate themselves into the Lakehead community.
Client: Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON