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The new Science and Technology Building houses the College’s pure sciences–Physics, Biology and Chemistry–as well as its professional programs of nursing, paramedic and biopharmaceutical studies. The building’s main programmatic functions include general and specialized laboratories, classrooms, offices and learning centres, as well as informal spaces for the exchange of ideas. The idea of activity from the public ground level filtering up into the educational spaces above is extremely important to the project, as it stresses the relationship of the sciences to the public. Exhibitions and activities may take place in the foyer, allowing students and visitors to derive benefits and inspiration from cross-disciplinary ideas. From the start, the College and design team identified particular mandates that would allow the building to be an example in sustainability, such as effective water management, energy efficiency and reuse, and the employment of recycled materials where possible.  [1]

Over the recent years John Abbott College has gone through some impressive construction, as they work alongside community partnerships to complete a strategic plan to build a collaborative learning community. [2]

The architecture stems from the landscape, taking cues from its context. On the site is a majestic gingko tree that was envisioned as a centerpiece for a beautiful, collegial, outdoor gathering space. The building’s form first extends from the campus centre, then folds to frame a public courtyard around this tree. The vertical link thus becomes a public interior garden, emphasizing the connection between the natural environment and the type of learning that takes place within the building. The central atrium space allows easy access to other levels, fostering connection, communication, and sense of community between disciplines. The first priority was to provide an environment that supports active and engaged learners and nourishes enthusiasm for life-long learning. To contribute to the healthiest environment possible, important factors such as indoor air quality and levels of noise are controlled. Natural light and natural ventilation play a vital role in the life of the building, being present throughout. Furthermore, as the building privileges views outward, occupants will remain in contact with the exterior campus landscape.  [3]

A tree must first take its strength from its roots, and a successful building must do the same. It is not possible to throw in some fancy ‘green’ devices once everything else has been decided to render a building ‘sustainable’ or simply add up various eco-measures and get a high-performing, energy-efficient facility. For a true sustainable result, it must come from the early stages of a project, with the roots guiding every decision. This simple analogy explains how John Abbott College approaches its new science and technology building project. It is also fitting because tree roots came into play for the school’s new design. Early on, the school decided to hire a complete set of professionals to discuss the possibility for this project and ensure the building would make a clear statement to the community about how important the environment is for future generations. The tree was more than a century old, and the team felt it would be a powerful statement to incorporate its presence in the design of the new building. In other words, there needed to be a way to integrate the building design with the existing environment, and not the other way around. [4]


[1]     Canadian Architect. “John Abbott College: Science and Health Technologies Building.” Canadian Architect, November 30, 2009. https://www.canadianarchitect.com/john-abbott-college-science-and-health-technologies-building/.

[2]     “Cegep John Abbott College.” Canada For School. Accessed January 16, 2021. canadaforschool.com/canada-school/Cegep-John-Abbott-College.htm.

[3]     Sanchez, Daniel. “Anne-Marie Edward Science Building at John Abbott College / Saucier + Perrotte Architectes.” ArchDaily. ArchDaily, November 28, 2013. https://www.archdaily.com/452306/anne-marie-edward-science-building-at-john-abbott-college-saucier-perrotte-architectes?ad_medium=gallery.

[4]     “Exploring John Abbott College’s Latest Building.” Construction Canada, February 17, 2017. https://www.constructioncanada.net/exploring-john-abbott-colleges-latest-building/.

Project Title: John Abbott College Science & Health Technologies Building
Artists: Saucier + Perrotte
Year: 2009
Place: Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

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