new experience #28: set foot in the perimeter institute

september 1st marked seven years since the condo casa became “home.” at move-in time, they were putting the finishing touches on an eye-catching and very avant-garde building across the road:

the perimeter institute as seen from the loft windows - it's the black structure in the background

on sunday, the perimeter institute held an open house in celebration of the completion of the stephen hawking centre – just one of many special events going on this weekend.

see, seven years ago, the perimeter also held an open house…and i missed it! i remember that the line-ups were h-u-g-e, and i couldn’t be bothered didn’t make the effort to check out this world-renowned think-tank (founded by co-ceo of research in motion – aka the blackberry maker).

how time flies!

i was determined to correct my oversight because 1) i was genuinely eager to see inside the structure i’ve been staring at from my living room window for seven years 2) it would be a new experience to finally go behind closed doors.

however!!! participating in the tour was my second choice for “new experiences” this weekend – on saturday, the perimeter hosted canadian astronaut julie payette as a guest lecturer – again, free to the public. unfortunately, my work schedule clashed with the time of this special event. how sad! i would love to have “meet an astronaut” on my kiki-list!

the open house tours were available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on sunday, and you could pre-book a time slot. i chose 3 p.m. since i worked til 2 p.m.

sunday was gorgeously sunny! good for photo taking!

the small windows and black and green colour combo are meant to make the building blend with the colours of waterloo park

people came out in droves! in masses! in clumps! this was a seriously huge draw for the general public.

clear signage everywhere

they had us enter the building by the stephen hawking addition:

while i LOVE the architecture of the original building, i'm not so sure about the design of the new wing...

since i already had my ticket, i could just walk right in.

it was like following the yellow brick road - green arrows appeared every couple of feet

did you know…


how would you like to exit your office…

most of the offices look out over the park

…and have this view?

reflecting pond in the back courtyard

while the tour was self-guided – we just followed those arrows – there were tons of volunteers available to answer questions and point out interesting features. i kind of just gawked about in awe. the building is spacious, light-filled, minimalist in design…even with the hordes of people surrounding me, this sense of stillness and “zen” came through loud and clear. i can see how you could really probe the complexities of scientific theory in here!

neat feature!…

every so often there is a nook with a blackboard - i guess you never know when a solution to a quantum physics formula is going to strike!

...and i thought friday evening's lecture was confusing! what IS this?!!!

the open house tour was really well organized:

the architects were available to answer questions... were researchers. i didn't ask a question - not about to embarrass myself!

fun factoids! now THIS is the kind of scientific info that is useful to me, and that i understand!



we were shown what appeared to be a regular board room:

the INTERIOR is normal; when viewed from the EXTERIOR, the room appears to be floating! no visible support beams!

oftentimes, bottlenecks occurred during the walk-about tour. there were just so many people out! all ages and nationalities were represented.

interior view

without those green arrows pointing the way and ropes to cordon off some hallways, i don’t know how people find their way about – it felt very much like a maze. haha – i kept thinking, “it would be so cool to have this route set up as a race! up, down, zigzagging hither and yon – it’d be a great circuit to run!”

just like on friday, i am very enthusiastic about what i saw at the perimeter institute. “interactive” and “accessible” best describe the open house tour. as i exited, i was filled with a feeling of pride for my neighbourhood, and appreciation for what is being accomplished at the perimeter. i’m SO glad i finally got to see this facility – it’s absolutely breathtaking.

perimeter as seen from the waterloo park side

what do you appreciate most in your neighbourhood? waterloo park is such a gem…but i also love the shopping, walking to work, the princess movie theatre…uptown waterloo has it all!

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  • Lisa  On September 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Wow! That is so interesting. Thanks for sharing. It looks very brainy and cool.

    I am still scoping out my neighborhood…but I’m so close to the lake and lots and lots of cool old buildings (the YMCA is an ancient post office, etc.). I’m starting to appreciate the older architecture, at least on the outside of buildings!

    • 1970kikiproject  On September 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

      haha – brainy, yes. i was hoping that by walking through, some of the smart scientist brain cells would be absorbed by osmosis!…that y sounds very neat! i love older architecture, too. luckily, my ‘hood also has some of that! happy exploring, lisa!

  • Zo  On September 20, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Wow that place looks cool. And I love the name “Perimeter Institute.” I would love to find something on par with that in our neighborhood, but right now, I mostly brag about being 5 minutes away from Target and 15 from Trader Joe’s!

    • 1970kikiproject  On September 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      Oh – I am tempted to say I’ll swap you the institute for a tj’s…but only if you throw in a target! *almost!*

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat  On September 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I’m so happy you posted about this Cathy, because I have NEVER been! I always drive past that building and wonder what inspired the designers to give it the odd shape that it is! The tour sounds really interesting and I think I’ll definitely have to check it out – maybe with my sister when she comes to visit sometime… she lives in England and is doing her degree in physics so anything related to that is totally right up her alley.

    I think one of my favourite places in the Loo is the area near RIM park (when not under construction of course!) because of all the trails, greenery, and wide open space. Great for running and rollerblading!

    • 1970kikiproject  On September 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      oh yes! do make an effort to get your sister in there…she will be spellbound! that is so cool that she is doing her degree in physics. when i was doing the tour, one thing i noticed is that the names on the office door were predominantly male. so, yea for your sister! i agree – the RIM park area is beautiful. thanks for the reminder – i don’t get over that way too often!

  • Holly  On September 20, 2011 at 9:06 am

    What a cool place! That building is so beautiful. I will say that the subject is not something that truly interests me, but I would want to go at least once!

    I like our neighborhood: we’re close to the mall, to parks, to walking/running trails and to our families of course.

    • 1970kikiproject  On September 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

      close to families – that is the best! your neighbourhood sounds very pleasant, holly! i like the trail close to you (from photos you’ve shown on your blog)!

  • Karen  On September 20, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I always marveled at this building whenever I walked or biked by it, which was pretty often. I always wanted to see inside. Your photo tour is the next best thing. Thanks!

    I loved being walking distance to Uptown Waterloo as well. We were on Roger St Not quite as close as you but still do-able via the train tracks.

    PS curious that you couldn’t find me on FB. Just remember that my last name is spelled funny… Reyburn.

    • 1970kikiproject  On September 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

      it was SO great to finally get inside! both the exterior and the interior are equally impressive and stunning! still can’t find you on fb! you’re not popping up when i search your name?!?!

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