Project DescriptionThe Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning—at once a building, a community, and a collection of activities—is dedicated to better understanding and improving student learning at the University of Calgary. The Institute welcomes disciplines from across campus to inspire and be inspired by new thought, conversation, practices and inquiry in teaching and learning. This is not your ordinary classroom setting.
This ground breaking new building is a hub for evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning in higher education. Programmed to foster research, the institute’s spaces are designed for flexibility so that new and experimental approaches to teaching may be tested, tried, observed and evaluated. The Institute was fully funded by a $40-million gift from the Taylor Family Foundation.
At the main entry are a prominent flexible gallery space, teaching recognition wall and informal amphitheater that welcome researchers, students and visitors into an atrium, naturally lit from above and open to a learning mezzanine and second floor. Around this spine are open, structured learning spaces, a public forum, informal group workspaces and administration spaces.
The signature spine is integral to the building’s performance, as it allows a natural chimney effect and brings daylight to the center of the plan. A passive solar wall and earth duct combine with exhaust air heat recovery to mitigate energy loss at both ends of the ventilation system. The facility is primed to be net-zero ready with the addition of a photovoltaic array.
Enabled by transparent walls and video cameras throughout, researchers can observe students and professors and study different teaching techniques to determine what works best. The learning spaces are fully flexible; the tables, chairs, screens, whiteboards and instructors’ stations are mobile and can be arranged in any configuration. This allows instructors to reimagine what a classroom can look like and how student learning can happen.
The heart of the building is the highly flexible public forum space. Looking to state-of-the-art theater technology, the forum is capable of quickly and effortlessly changing configurations via floor-mounted technology and hidden seats. Among other formats, this room can be set up as a theatre, a flat floor dance studio, a tiered presentation space, a teaching lab or a gathering hub for students. In each format, the room will appear to have been designed only for that purpose.
Built on the site of the former Nickle Arts Museum, whose foundations and steel were repurposed for this building, the Taylor Institute establishes a new formal entry plaza to the campus and frames three new landscaped quadrangles with adjacent buildings. By locating outdoor social areas adjacent to and that reinforce the spine as a campus access, the transition between interior and exterior of the building is blurred; and students, faculty and visitors are encouraged to spill out from the building to gather, protected by two translucent verandas that form sheltering exterior social spaces in the landscape.
To view a two-minute time-lapse of construction and tour of the facility, please see: