Memorial University – Emera Innovation Exchange

When the past is combined with the future


A hilltop hotel is revitalized into a multi-use facility overlooking St. John’s. The Emera Innovation Exchange makes room for serendipitous collisions in a new community engagement hub for Memorial University and the city beyond. The facility welcomes students, university faculty and staff, industry start-ups, and the local community into the mixed-use building. The revitalized space offers graduate student housing, community classrooms, private offices, and open shared space for guests and the community at large.

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St. Johns, NL
50,000 sq ft
Memorial University of Newfoundland
DIALOG Services

Interior Design
Structural Engineering

A beacon in St. John's

From its perch on top of Signal Hill, clean lines of glass juxtapose the octagonal forms of the former Battery Hotel.

Exchanging ideas

Understanding how we learn and how we exchange ideas was a large influencer on the design.

Gathering places

The arrangement wraps private office and classroom spaces around a larger social hub – anchored by the socially magnetic gathering stair that is meant to emulate the ribs of a ship.

Expansive views

This facilitates serendipitous collisions of ideas and people. Chance encounters can occur between students, faculty, industry, and the public.

Thoughtfully sustainable

While LEED® was not required for this building, choices were environmentally sensitive.

Repurposing historic materials

Wood from the demolished hotel was used in a variety of ways for the project, lending a nod to the past as well as respecting the local tradition of waste not, want not.

A new purpose

The renovation gives new life to a historic building that had served as a beacon and cultural centre to the city of St. John’s since the 1950s.

The Team

It’s a beautiful space, and really – it’s been designed for collaboration.

Cathy Newhook, Manager of Engagement and Communications at MUN’s Harris Centre
A gathering stair

Glass-fronted classrooms open towards a large common area that is grounded by the massive gathering stair.

A Maritimes tribute

The stair’s curved form emulates the ribs of a ship and performs double duty – providing a bold transition between levels, and seats to gather for lectures or performances.


2019 Award of Merit (Finalist) – Building, Engineering & ScienceOntario Consulting Engineering (CEO)