Centennial College Downsview Campus Centre for Aerospace and Aviation

Finalist 2020

The new Downsview Park Aerospace Campus at Centennial College adaptively reuses one of the most remarkable sites in Canadian aviation history. The building that was once the center of aviation manufacturing and design has now been transformed into an innovative learning institution. Celebrating the rich history of the site, the new facility introduces a bold graphics strategy that chronicles the site's extensive past while looking to its reimagined future.

Interior graphics take cues from colors, symbols, and patterns commonly found in aviation manufacturing, runway graphics, and airport wayfinding. A large 28-meter crane in the main hangar establishes the bold yellow color used throughout the facility’s graphic treatment. A translucent canopy that renders Centennial College’s logo in glass, defines a bold new entry. The canopy is accompanied by interpretive graphics exploring the building’s heritage and recollects the most prominent planes that were once manufactured in the facility. The narrative is presented as a timeline for visitors accessing the entry ramp.

In the main lobby, which doubles as a student lounge, a large 9-meter diameter wind rose graphic has been inlaid into the existing floor as a marine-grade coating application. The stylized graphic takes its cue from the wind rose meteorological graphic tool, indicating the site-specific wind speed and directional distribution pattern. Floor markings continue throughout the facility, with each treatment directing users to wall-mounted informational signage. A series of bespoke pictograms were created for room signs, highlighting the unique nature of the learning and fabrication spaces throughout the facility, such as avionics, electronics, engines, and composite labs.

Bold wayfinding panels placed in the lobby, in addition to dimensional donor signage, continue this graphic reference to the site’s aviation history. The donor wall uses circular tubes, paralleling those found on an aircraft control board to acknowledge those who gave financial support. In addition, super-sized graphic murals play a major role in rebranding the site as a home to aviation education, drawing user attention to the vintages of its various architectural components and highlighting the activities that once took place on its historic site.

Centennial College’s new Downsview Park Aerospace Campus has successfully created a vibrant learning environment that nods to its storied past and celebrates the heritage of aviation history. Grounded in bold colors and graphics that reference the past, the campus contextualizes the site’s history and celebrates the continuation of the aviation industry through the education of future generations.


Design Firm: 



Centennial College

Project Area: 

140,000 sf

Open Date: 

November 2018

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Scott Norsworthy

Design Team: 

Robert Allen (partner-in-charge), Timothy Belanger (graphic design partner), Sean Solowski (project designer), Chris Burbidge (project manager), Kristin Beites (project architect), Agnes Yuen (design team)


Acumen Visual Group (signage and wayfinding), PCL Graphics Ltd. (environmental graphics / murals)

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