The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning makes its home in a cutting-edge building at the heart of the University of Calgary’s main campus. It is at once a building for innovation, a community of colleagues, and a collection of activities dedicated to better understanding and improving student learning. The building was made possible by a generous $40 million donation by the Taylor Family Foundation to realize these goals and was designed with great attention to transparency, inquiry, collaboration, and flexibility.
The building has three flexible learning spaces that allow instructors to experiment with advanced teaching and learning approaches. On the south side of the atrium, the forum has retractable seating that allows it to convert from a flat-floor learning space to 340-seat public lecture space. Two other learning spaces, on the north and east sides of the building, have movable walls that allow them to subdivide into two or three smaller spaces.
All of the building’s learning spaces are fully flexible, with furniture that can be arranged in different configurations. The spaces are infused with technology, with a huge grid of floor boxes, and the teaching stations are mobile, so the instructor can set up the space in different ways. The building’s transparent design – including observation pods outside the learning spaces – ensures that others can observe and learn from this experimentation.
- The Taylor Institute was constructed on the foundations of the former Nickle Arts Museum. All of the steel from the Nickle was recycled; in total, 89 per cent of construction, demolition and land clearing waste was diverted from landfill, for reuse or recycling.
- Preference was given to wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; 99 per cent of the wood used in the building is FSC-certified and sustainably harvested.
- Recycled materials made up 14 per cent of the total cost of building materials.
- The choice of native plants, combined with an efficient irrigation system, means the building uses 70 per cent less potable water for irrigation compared to a conventional building.
- The Taylor Institute incorporates a number of energy-saving features, including high-performance windows, LED lighting controlled by daylight sensors, low-flow hot water fixtures supplied by a high-efficiency water heater, a well-insulated roof, radiant heating and cooling, and sourcing energy from the campus district energy plant.
- The roof is a light-coloured membrane that reflects more of the sun’s rays and reduces the amount of heat absorbed by the building. This lowers the amount of energy needed to cool the building in summer, and helps to minimize the urban heat island effect.
- The building’s energy use is 71 per cent less compared to a conventional building of the same size.