Pathways to Ideas

At a pedestrian crossroads at the north end of the University of Alberta campus, all pathways lead to the new Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (CCIS). The building serves five different departments in the Faculty of Science, and promises to help promote the type of interdisciplinary conversation that leads to exciting ideas, new ways of thinking, and new discoveries.

Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (CCIS) building at the U of A in Edmonton. 

The CCIS project presented two distinct challenges. There was the physical hurdle of building a 53,500-square-meter (576,000 sq.ft.), nine-level building on a tight lot and integrating it with the more traditional look of nearby 20th century buildings. There was also the challenge of meeting the more esoteric goals of constructing a building that inspires thought and sparks future generations of learners.


PCL worked with its designers to help achieve the client’s vision by creating a modern structure with a highly articulated architecture. Acres of glass, stretches of it in three-dimensional composite curves, create a sense of physical transparency. A multihued terrazzo floor illustrates the scientific building blocks (from quarks to fossils) that underlie our physical world.
There is more to the building than its architectural beauty. The complexity of its mechanical systems, required to serve high-end research labs, are more intricate than those in an acute care hospital. These systems also make possible the environmentally sound heating and cooling that will help the CCIS meet its target of LEED® Silver.
PCL successfully delivered the client’s vision of a building that would be an inspiring place to learn while providing students with the advanced technology systems of a modern post-secondary institution.