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Photo credit: Tom Arban


The CIGI Campus, located in Waterloo, Ontario, houses the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

The campus, which received a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, centres on a landscaped courtyard offering a contemporary take on the traditional academic quad building. Highlighted by wood, glass and stone elements, the Oxbridge-style complex also features a 250-seat auditorium for academic and public events. CIGI gratefully acknowledges support from the City of Waterloo, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada in constructing the CIGI Campus.

CIGI acknowledges that we live and work on the traditional territory of ‎the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. CIGI is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes 10 km on each side of the Grand River. [1]

The landscaped courtyard is the central focus of the new building. The court is enclosed by a glazed cloister with Douglas Fir ceilings and columns, the auditorium pavilion, and a 36 m water feature. One of the key challenges was to realize the vision of Jim Balsillie, the patron, to have a vibrant sanctuary. [2]

Responding to the goal of lasting for 100 years, the materials and methods of construction prioritize quality, longevity and low maintenance. A limited palette of local limestone and brick masonry, Douglas fir and glass create a serene atmosphere to encourage deep thinking and research. 

Rather than pursue a certified LEED rating, it was decided to invest in long-term durability using quality materials and local contractors, suppliers and materials. CIGI is one of the first buildings in Ontario to use BubbleDeck systems to eliminate more than 30% of the dead-load weight, achieving reductions in both columns and beams for greater space savings. It also achieved 30% cost savings in concrete material and carbon emissions.

The design has fast-tracked CIGI’s standing as an increasingly respected think tank in global affairs. The interconnected environment has attracted some of the world’s brightest experts in international affairs. The public spaces–pavilion, courtyard and meeting spaces–provide a valuable asset to the local community and are available for rent at affordable rates for outreach collaborations. The CIGI Campus demonstrates the tangible benefit architecture has to play in creating vibrant cities and communities that come together locally to make a positive impact globally. [3]


[1]       “CIGI Campus.” Centre for International Governance Innovation. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.cigionline.org/about/cigi-campus/.

[2]        “CIGI Campus: KPMB Architects.” Archello. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://archello.com/project/cigi-campus.

[3]        “CIGI Campus.” Canadian Architect, April 30, 2014. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/cigi-campus/.


Additional information:

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Campus, Waterloo, Ontario. YouTube. KPMB Architects, 2015. https://youtu.be/_1Y1tpFOchM.


“Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) Campus.” KPMB. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.kpmb.com/project/centre-for-international-governance-innovation-cigi-campus/.


“CIGI Campus by KPMB.” Global Architecture Archive, September 30, 2014. https://aasarchitecture.com/2014/09/cigi-campus-by-kpmb.html/.


Project Title: CIGI Campus
Artists:  KPMB Architects
Year: 2014

Place: Waterloo, Ontario

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