Brain / Mind / Icon

Western University Interdisciplinary Research Building, London, Ontario, Canada

The Western Interdisciplinary Research Building will serve as the new home for Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute (BMI) and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy. The building is interdisciplinary in the truest sense, bringing two seemingly disparate programs — one focused on advancing cognitive neuroscience and the other focused on addressing philosophical questions — together to grapple with important and complex issues related to contemporary science.

The project’s design emerges from its disciplinary program, a site that links and merges the natural and built landscapes, and a material palette that shifts between the highly transparent and the densely opaque. A diverse user group led to the inclusion of a number of key spaces, including wet and dry labs, teaching and research space, public amenities and a public plaza.

The architecture itself is a composition consisting of a dense tower, a transparent atrium, and an open, horizontal podium. The tower houses intensely-focused laboratory, research, and meeting program elements. It provides glimpses and views to the landscape, but is inherently inward-looking. The atrium functions as a fully transparent front door for the facility, and the podium, which opens up to the campus and the landscape, speaks to the links between the BMI and its international network of research partners.