The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (shortened to Perimeter Institute or simply PI) is an independent, resident-based research institute devoted to foundational issues in theoretical physics.
Riding the controversial line between public and private space, this private research institute attempts to subvert the usual hard thresholds established by private enterprise in the public realm.
All photographs © Marc Cramer
The site is on the shore of Silver Lake, at the northern edge of Waterloo's downtown core and the southern edge of the city's central park. Adjacent to the primary pedestrian access between the university campus and the city center, the site is a wilderness between clearly defined worlds.
The design is inspired by the nebulous spaces occupied by the subjects of theoretical physics, at once micro- and macro-cosmic, rich in information and of indeterminate form and substance. Located between the city and the park, the Perimeter Institute expands and inhabits the improbable space of the line that separates the two.
The building defines the secure zones of the Institute's facilities within a series of parallel walls, embedded in an erupting ground plane that reveals a large reflecting pool.
The north façade, facing the park across the pool, reveals the Institute as an organism, a microcosm of discrete elements. The south façade, facing the city across train tracks and the city's main arterial road, presents the Institute as a unified entity, but of enigmatic scale and content. Entry to the institute is possible from both the north, along the reflecting pool, and south, under the new ground plane.
The interior of the institute is organized around two central spaces, the main hall on the ground floor and the garden on the first floor. Flanking the two are the offices for the staff and the researchers. The garden is spanned by three bridges that puncture all the planes, including the north and south facades.
The bridges are conduits for quick access to facilities and information, and formally bind this unlikely and emerging institute for fundamental physics research.
2001 Architecture Magazine PA Award, New York
OAA Award of Excellence for Institutional Architecture 2005
Building Magazine “Out of the Box” Award 2005
OAQ Award of Excellence for Institutional Architecture 2005
ArchiZinc Award 2006_Paris
Governor General’s Medal in Architecture 2006
Schedule: september 2004 _ construction completion
Program: Research centre, research spaces, offices, library, meeting and seminar spaces, 210-seat lecture theatre, restaurant, gym
Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Client: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Total area: 6 000 m2 _ 64 000 sq.ft.
Principal in charge of design: Gilles Saucier
Project Architect: André Perrotte
Project Team: Trevor Davies, Andrew Butler, Dominique Dumais, Eric Majer, Pierre-Alexandre Rhéaume, Anna Bendix, Sudhir Suri, Christian Hébert, Laurence LeBeux, Quinlan Osborne, Jean-Louis Léger, Samantha Schneider, Nathalie Cloutier, Christine Levine, Jean-François Lagacé, Sergio Morales, Guillaume Sasseville, Maxime Gagné, Audrey Archambault
Structural Engineer: Blackwell Engineering Ltd.
Mechanical, Electrical Engineer:
Crossey Engineering Ltd.
Civil Engineering: Stantec Consulting Ltd.
Acoustics: Acoustics Engineering Ltd.
Audio Visual: Novita.
Kitchens: YGQ Designer Inc..
Landscape Architect: Saucier + Perrotte architectes
Contractor: Eastern Construction
Photography: Marc Cramer