Conservation students brainstorm designs for Saint Paul University


Third-year Azrieli School conservation students have produced designs to serve as inspiration for future development at Saint Paul University on Main Street in Ottawa.

“The students worked in teams and produced professional-looking renderings and models that were subject to the critiques of a panel of architects,” says an article in the Mainstreeter, the Old Ottawa East community newspaper.

Read the article HERE

Prof. Mariana Esponda led a conservation studio with 17 students last fall. It took on designing a contemporary addition to the university to house a multipurpose space for up to 1,000 people.

The space would accommodate convocation, meetings, and events. It will also serve as a hub for a social justice or environmental Innovation Centre that will represent the new vision of Saint Paul University.

The design concept of Jessica Babe and Mary Hanna “unravels through both interior and exterior spaces until it reaches a peak above the central core of the addition, a celebrated, multi-functional space within the university.” A feature of the design is a skating rink in an adjoining courtyard, readily visible from the new multipurpose space.

Federico Lacasia and Ryan Yang Zhang “modified the connection between Saint Paul’s Laframboise Hall and Guigues Hall by elevating it. Thus, the modification establishes a celebrated entrance to the campus and reveals its interior green space. The multipurpose convocation hall sits on an existing under-appreciated parking lot in the university. It is smaller than the existing buildings to not outshine the existing university buildings.”

The proposal of Melina Grandmont, Karli Bijawoski, and Clarisse Miranda located the addition at the north end of campus, attaching to Guigues Hall and creating a linear massing along both Main Street and Hazel Street. “The location of our addition was meant to complete the balance in the existing building’s shape by adding the ‘missing wing’ on the north side of Guigues and creating a supplementary courtyard between our addition and the central transept.”

Among the objectives of the project were to understand and respect heritage values and character-defining elements to intervene in a manner that will protect these values.

The students were also required to consult with clients, the community, and stakeholders to identify the main needs and apply sustainable design strategies.

Challenges included:

  • Understanding the interrelationship of Saint Paul University with new urban development on Main Street
  • Respecting the historically-significant surrounding context with the Rideau Canal, the Oblates Building, and Immaculata High School
  • Creating a dialogue with the two main buildings of Saint Paul University
  • Creating an integrated composition while adding a contemporary building
  • Protecting views 
  • Enlarging an existing building without destroying its historic character

“While, for now, the designs were simply fascinating creative exercises for the Carleton architecture students, someday Saint Paul University could have a new multi-purpose hall and these students might inspire some professional architects to design creatively and respectfully on the SPU campus,” concludes the Mainstreeter article.