Projects | Academic | Health Services Centre Expansion 


University of Waterloo Health Services Centre Expansion


Designing for Care

A new model for health service delivery that is more responsive and more inclusive




The University of Waterloo’s growing student population required a considerable expansion to the existing Health Services building. 

The design team (Kearns Mancini Architects and John MacDonald Architect) worked alongside the facility’s leadership and medical staff to support the implementation of a team-based model of health care with clear organization, calming spaces with gracious views, and excellent spaces for the delivery of services.


The final design incorporated:

- A new central facility entry that allows patients to quickly orient themselves, interact with intake staff, and find their way to the appropriate service

- A new mental health wing

- Space for minor procedures

- 20 new exam rooms with a front door for patients and a back door for medical staff for improved privacy, to better address the needs of families, mature and international students

- A calm interior to counter peoples’ natural anxiety with going to see a doctor

- Light-filled corridors and waiting areas

- A warm material palette that soothes, and offers a counterpoint to more typical antiseptic interiors​

- The renovation of the existing building to improve way-finding and create open, light-filled common spaces. It houses a new family clinic and improved human resources medical support.


Our Role:

Design, documentation, procurement, construction administration.


Did You Know?:

The original Health Services building is located immediately adjacent to Laurel Creek, which forms part of the Grand River watershed, and is an important natural feature flowing through the main campus. The design and construction of the addition and renovations were therefore subject to review and approval of the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA). The footprint of the addition was limited to suit the GRCA’s hydrological modelling. Further, careful attention was paid to the location and distribution of electrical services and equipment, in the unlikely event of flooding. During renovations of the existing 1960’s building, significant degradation was found in the masonry construction of the portion of the upper floor overhanging the creek, and needed to be replaced. In order for the GRCA to allow construction over the creek, a fully sealed, enclosed platform was built to prevent contamination of the waterway by construction debris and/or new building components containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Temporary footings were carefully laid on the creek bed, on top of which the framework for the platform was built.


“It has been my pleasure to work closely with John MacDonald and his staff at JMA over the past year, as JMA and Kearns Mancini Architects have designed and documented our Health Services expansion. We very much appreciate the attention to detail and commitment to teamwork that JMA has shown. They are careful listeners, and we really feel that our input has been valued and acted upon. John and his staff are working diligently, with great communication and follow up. We are very pleased with the team’s service, and tremendously excited by the design that is now becoming reality.”


— Barbara Schumacher, MD

Director (Retired), Health Services University of Waterloo



Project Data


Alteration / Addition



Waterloo, Ontario

2,050 m² (22,000 sq. ft.)​

Construction Completed 2014