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James Stewart Centre for Mathematics, McMaster University

  • Location Hamilton, Ontario
  • Client Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science, James Stewart Centre for Mathematics, McMaster University
  • Completion 2003
  • Size 49,000 ft² / 4,552 m²
  • Project type Education, Heritage
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The first project of its kind at a Canadian university to promote team-based mathematics

This project involved the adaptive re-use of Hamilton Hall (1929) into a centre for excellence in mathematics. The project was conceived to consolidate a previously disparate math department as well as to create effective teaching and research spaces to respond to a broader societal demand for mathematically trained individuals in fields of finance, telecommunications, biostatistics, and cryptography.

The design concept juxtaposes a highly abstract and modern interior in stark opposition to the Collegiate Gothic exterior. The dark, labyrinthine was completely demolished and a new insulated envelope was inserted to preserve the exterior. A blue glass void was inserted to visually connect the building’s four storeys and to allow natural light to be drawn deep into the interior spaces. The spatial order juxtaposes calm, enclosed rooms with open, interactive zones to accommodate the mathematicians’ need for both quiet space in which to focus ideas and solutions and open spaces for the collaborative teamwork. Slate blackboards are woven throughout to allow students to collaborate and to capture the spontaneous thoughts of the peripatetic mathematicians.