York U’s Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence opens its doors to innovative learning


TORONTO, April 8, 2016 – York University’s Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence officially threw open its doors today marking the beginning of a new kind of learning.

The Bergeron Centre, known for its unique architectural design, is heightening the learning experience of students at the Lassonde School of Engineering by fostering creativity and emphasizing a hands-on approach. Its cutting-edge labs and learning spaces with white boards lining the walls encourage collaboration and the generation of ideas.

The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at York

The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at York University

The award-winning building was designed by Toronto’s ZAS Architects + Interiors, built by UK-based construction firm Laing O’Rourke in partnership with the Gillam Group and named in recognition of alumnus Douglas Bergeron and his wife Sandra for their $10 million donation. The provincial government invested $50 million in the construction of this advanced learning and research centre.

“The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence is a truly forward-looking, uniquely designed facility that will offer our engineering students unsurpassed experiential learning opportunities,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, York University President & Vice-Chancellor. “The Centre is an exciting addition to campus life at York – one that will give our students a distinct advantage through access to flexible, collaborative learning spaces and research labs. This is how students prefer to learn today, and we’re proud to be able to provide facilities that support and reflect 21st century education.”

The 169,500-sq-ft centre with five floors and a green rooftop boasts a façade of 8,000 triangular metal panels and windows in a mathematically derived Penrose pattern that never repeats. The design drew its inspiration from Georgian Bay and the iconic Canadian image of a cloud floating over a rock.

The building is primarily home to the University’s three newest engineering programs – civil, mechanical and electrical.

“Our government is proud to support York’s Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, a facility that is providing the next generation of engineers with the expertise they need to thrive in Ontario’s knowledge-based economy,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

“I’m pleased that within this cutting-edge new learning space, York is advancing an innovative curriculum that is giving students access not only to training across a variety of engineering disciplines, but also to a number of critical skills employers are looking for like entrepreneurship, collaboration and creativity. I look forward to seeing the contributions future graduates will make to our society and to our economy as they turn these skills into high value jobs.”

There are no lecture halls. Instead, there are several active learning areas which offer students, who hail from Peel Region, North York, York Region, Toronto and far beyond, the latest in learning technology and a place to tackle real world issues.

The first-floor High Bay Lab was primarily created for civil engineering research to test the strength of materials such as concrete to see, for example, if it can withstand an earthquake. The second-floor “Sandbox” is a student space designed to allow the free-flow of ideas many of which can then be turned into a prototype using one of the on-site 3D printers. The idea is to get students from various programs and disciplines interacting to develop innovative solutions and create new concepts.

The centre is also home to the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) program created by Doug & Sandra Bergeron, which integrates curricular and experiential activities to develop business skills and help students understand what it takes to launch a technology start-up enterprise.

“Tomorrow’s entrepreneurial engineers need to be open-minded collaborators working with talented people from a variety of fields,” said Bergeron. “The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence gives students the freedom to think creatively, to imagine solutions that defy conventional wisdom and to take their ideas from sketches on a whiteboard into real world technology ventures.

The building is expected to receive LEED Gold accreditation in recognition of its environmental performance and sustainable design.


*WATCH: A time-lapse video of the construction of the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence from the ground up.

Additional quotes:

“This is a radically different space for a radically different type of education. Gone are the days of learning passively from lectures and textbooks. We want our students to think ‘outside the book’ by making things, testing prototypes, solving problems together and learning by doing. That’s the kind of creative training that will prepare them to solve the world’s complex challenges and to lead Canada’s economic future.” - Janusz Kozinski, Dean, Lassonde School of Engineering.

"I am delighted that York University continues to be a trailblazer in academic innovation. This significant investment in our community by our provincial government in the cutting-edge Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence will help foster many of Ontario's brightest‎ minds right here in York West. Our government's commitment to post-secondary education and infrastructure ensures that we continue to compete globally by preparing students for the high-skilled jobs demanded by a technology-driven economy." - Mario Sergio, MPP for York West

“Through an intensive design process with York University and the Lassonde School we created a school which prioritizes the students above all else. Student spaces and classrooms are light-filled and learning is hands-on. We’re incredibly proud to see our design foster learning for the next generation of entrepreneurial engineers.” – Paul Stevens, ZAS Architects + Interiors

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our 52,000 students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 24 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. As Canada’s only fully bilingual campus, Glendon is one of the faculties of York University dedicated to excellence in bilingual postsecondary education.

Media Contacts:
Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097 / sandramc@yorku.ca

Janice Walls, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22101 / wallsj@yorku.ca