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University of Waterloo Selects HOK to Design New Eye Institute

The project will create Canada’s leading eye and vision care center and provide an important piece of healthcare infrastructure.

The University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science has selected HOK to design its new Waterloo Eye Institute. The 67,000-sq.-ft. space will enhance and expand two floors of the school’s existing building on the University of Waterloo’s campus in southwestern Ontario.

The Institute will re-create clinical patient care spaces and blend patient care with areas for education and innovation. Specialty patient care services include primary care and pediatric clinics, ocular health and contact lens clinics, low vision rehabilitation and research clinics, teleoptometry centers, an ambulatory ophthalmology surgical center and research facilities dedicated to ocular imaging research and biomedical science.

“We look forward to bringing our expertise to serve such an innovative Canadian university and the broader community,” said Arash Farbahi, principal-in-charge of the project and the marketing principal for HOK’s Toronto studio. “We will collaborate with School of Optometry & Vision Science Director Dr. Stanley Woo and the entire university community to design a new Eye Institute that will have a positive impact on patient care and wellness, both locally and nationally. The next generation of clinicians and researchers will train here.”

Within the next 25 years, the annual cost of vision loss in Canada is expected to double to CAD$30 billion as the nation’s population grows older. Many of the leading causes of vision loss—including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration—are age-related.

HOK’s design team includes consultant Chris Downey, an architect who lost his sight following an operation to remove a benign brain tumor. He brings a uniquely important perspective to the project as an expert in developing environments for the blind and visually impaired that are multisensory and do not privilege or bias one sense over others.

Downey will help ensure the new Waterloo Eye Institute works equally well for patients, visitors, staff and students. He has previously collaborated with HOK on projects for the Duke University Hospital’s Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina, and the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitative Tower at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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