The Nicol Building


Ottawa, ON



Fall 2019/Winter 2020


Contractor: Hein
Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti Canada Inc.
Architect: Hariri Pontarini Architects


Carleton University had a request for their new Nicol Building, a six-storey building for the Sprott School of Business. In line with the school’s vision to be creative and socially responsible, they wanted an innovative design at the focal point of the campus. Concrete was chosen as a fitting building material because of its stability, fire resistance, and acoustic and vibration-dampening capabilities. To further insulate the building and avoid direct glare from the sun, a unified system of vertical concrete fins was designed, which provided a continuous wall between each glass pane. This reduces summer and winter heating and cooling expenditures, while also adding architectural depth. The challenge for our team was the manufacture of the curved fins. Much thought, time, and planning went into the design, manufacture, storage, and installation of these special architectural panels. We used rubber forms to manufacture the precast fins and an alternate technique to that traditionally used to vibrate the concrete. Due to the shape of the fins, we had to think outside of the box when it came to sandblasting and storing them. In the end, we made custom racks to store them in our yard. Our team was painstakingly precise with the layout and location of each panel to prevent any complications with window installation. We also created a custom mix in a heavy sandblast finish to match the colour and texture required. After eight weeks we installed the ground floor architectural precast panels and the fins on the remaining levels. The end result is an eye-catching 115,000-square-foot building that opened in September 2021 which serves as the new front door to Carleton University and a space that inspires collaboration and creativity.