Wine Visitor + Education Centre wins architectural award

Niagara College’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre (WVEC) has received the 2009 Niagara Community Design Architecture Award.

Designed by Emilio Raimondo of Raimondo and Associates Architects, Inc. of Niagara Falls, the WVEC was officially opened in early November 2009, during a royal visit from His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The $3.6 million Centre houses the Niagara College Teaching Winery, Canada’s first and only commercial teaching winery, visitor centre services, research projects and encompasses the College’s 40-acres of teaching and research vineyards.

The Niagara Community Design Awards are presented by the Niagara Region and the Niagara Economic Development Corporation, and recognize and celebrate excellence in community design in the Niagara Region. Focus is placed on projects that enhance the built environment, efficiently use land, and demonstrate creativity and vision. The Architecture Award is sponsored by the Niagara Society of Architects. The awards were presented last evening at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Jurors noted that the building’s circular plan “gives the structure a distinctive shape, while offering panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards and escarpment. The building has many green elements and was heavily influenced by the landscape and lines of the escarpment.”

“As a good wine reflects terroir, or place, we wanted this building to reflect its surroundings, specifically the Niagara Escarpment,” said John Gittings, Niagara College’s Manager of Planning and Development, who oversaw design and construction of the facility.

The exterior of the building uses Niagara Escarpment limestone, and the facility incorporates “green” elements, including passive solar design and a “buried” wine cellar that reduces cooling costs.

The WVEC promotes the Ontario and Canadian grape and wine industry, wineries, growers, agriculture and culinary traditions and tourism by providing education, training, information and experiential opportunities for students, industry, our communities and visitors. With a focus on excellence and quality, the Centre houses applied research in wine business, tourism, oenology and viticulture. All operations within the centre are self-sufficient, while promoting environmental sustainability.

The WVEC also serves as a living laboratory for students in Niagara College’s wine, culinary and hospitality and tourism programs. Niagara College is a leader in wine education and trains more than 1,000 students every year in certificate, diploma and post-graduate programs, along with seminars and conferences related to the grape and wine industry.

“We’re very pleased that the Wine Visitor + Education Centre has been recognized for its outstanding design,” said Niagara College President Dan Patterson. “It is truly a one-of-a-kind facility that is a unique learning environment for our students, an important resource for industry, and a gateway to Canada’s top wine region.”

Construction of the WVEC was funded in part by the Province of Ontario, and the facility is part of Niagara College’s $90 million campus redevelopment project. The WVEC was constructed by Brouwer Construction Ltd., of St. Catharines.

With 8,000 full-time students, Niagara College offers more than 90 diploma, baccalaureate degrees and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, applied health and community safety, and the College is home to the globally-recognized Niagara Culinary Institute and Niagara College Teaching Winery. In 2008, Niagara College launched a $90 million campus redevelopment project, which is scheduled for completion in 2011.For more information, visit


For more information, contact:

Gordon Hunchak
Director, Marketing and Communications
905-735-2211, ext. 7567
905-650-7820 (cell)

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