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Indigenous knowledge centre acclaimed for wood use

Sault’s Shingwauk Education Trust Anishinabek Discovery Centre named 2023 wood design award winner

The Shingwauk Education Trust  Anishinawbek Discovery Centre in Sault Ste. Marie has won an industry award for the use of wood in its design.

Ontario Wood WORKS! selected the educational centre as one of nine award recipients during the annual general meeting of the Ontario Forest Industries Association (OFIA), which was held May 2 in Toronto.

Awards are given to people and organizations that promote the use of wood in construction, through design, advocacy and innovation.

“It is a privilege to recognize Ontario’s wood design leaders through our Wood Design Awards program,” said Steven Street, executive director of Ontario Wood WORKS!, in a news release.

“Collectively, the winning projects this year shine a light on the role that wood construction can play in addressing some of the larger challenges facing society today, notably housing supply, sustainability, and a shortage of skilled trades.”

Officially opened in 2022, the $12-million Discovery Centre serves as an education, research, and cultural centre providing culture-based programming in addition to housing the National Chiefs Library, which includes archives pertaining to residential schools in Canada.

The 20,000-square-foot building includes classrooms and administrative offices as well as a large student lounge, cafe, art gallery and performing arts space.

It was designed by Two Row Architect, engineered by Timber Systems + WSP Thunder Bay, and managed by Colliers Group. The wood was supplied by Timber Systems.

Wood was chosen as a building material for its cultural importance to the community, and wood features through the building include the spruce roof above the library and resource room.

“The dome is modelled after the teaching lodge which stood in the Anishinaabe communities for thousands of years,” notes Wood WORKS! in its winner synopsis. “Of note are the two parallel ridge beams, signifying both male and female energies moving from east to west.”

The windowed main gallery, which faces the St. Marys River, features twinned glulam columns and a sloped ceiling consisting of two-foot-wide planks of spruce. 

Wood WORKS! is a national, industry-led initiative of the Canadian Wood Council that provides free technical support to facilitate the use of wood in all types of construction.