aA was invited to participate in a competition to design the global headquarters of a new international foundation, located in Canada but focusing on the global community. The headquarters will function both as an administrative headquarters and a research and education centre, promoting pluralism as an essential strategy for overcoming sectarian, political and cultural discord. Suitably, the foundation will occupy and expand a heritage building with a commanding panoramic view that spans two provinces and a major Canadian watershed.

aA’s design solution rested on two ideas. First, we expressed the building’s internal purposes externally, peeling back the roof and removing a cylindrical core from the centre of the floor plate. Second, as healing qualities are attributed to water in all the Abrahamic traditions, we created a formal reflecting pool fed by the adjacent river. The core removed from the floor plate was relocated as a freestanding pavilion floating in the centre of the pool. The pavilion will house an institute for studies in pluralism: the heart of the Foundation, literally exposed to the world.

Design Competition: International Foundation Headquarters