Law building transformation featured in leading construction publication

The Transforming Windsor Law project was featured in the Daily Commercial News: the authoritative voice of Eastern Canada’s construction industry. In the article, "Opening up Windsor’s storied Brutalist law school building," reporter Ron Stang interviews architect Duncan Higgins of Diamond Schmitt Architects in Toronto.

While speaking about opening up the law building to incorporate more natural light and usable space in the new design, Higgins said: “It’s a fine robust structure and we are reusing it to its fullest advantage.”

The problem, Higgins suggests, was the materiality of the building. There were too many light-absorbent materials, brick, concrete, opaque walls. Even the quarry tile floor blended with the brick walls to make navigation, especially for the sight-impaired or otherwise disabled, difficult.

“There was no definition on the floor for anyone with visual impairments where elevations changed,” Higgins said.

And the numerous stairs alone impeded full movement.

So gone will be the former quarry tile, replaced with sandstone-coloured porcelain tile. The skylight around the commons will be opened up by removing the surrounding brick.

New partitions and acoustic panels will be installed with light fabric to bounce the light.

“The light will fall deeper into the commons,” Higgins said.

Meanwhile, the classrooms, there were nine and now there will be 13, had no windows and “no connection to the exterior,” the architect said.

The Moot Court, the “signature” learning space where students simulate trials, was deeply angled and cavernous. Now there will be two double-height windows.

A former concept in teaching the law was that students “were not allowed to look outside and focus on anything other than their lecture,” Higgins chuckled. “Now, everyone appreciates the benefits that natural daylight brings to a space of learning as well.”

Read the full article on the Daily Commercial News website.