The Lassonde Debate

The Ask

In 2016, The Lassonde School of Engineering at York University was in the midst of a rapid transformation- confidently pursuing its mission to create the “renaissance engineer”. With Young Offenders’ help, the school unveiled it’s new home - The Bergeron Centre - and mere months later, was eager to take its flagship event - The Lassonde Debate - to the next level.

Young Offenders was asked to conceptualize, develop, and execute a sensory-heightening, multi-faceted night that would bring together students, professors, and donors, to hear from a panel of high-profile debaters, and take part in the vibrant discourse themselves. The panel of debaters sat down to either support or oppose the house’s belief: “Technology is making us more human”.

The Approach

While working alongside a school that pushes the boundaries in everything it does, it was necessary to bring the event to life with as many showstopping moments as possible. The rules of the Oxford-style debate kept it traditional, but all other aspects of the event ranged from unorthodox to avant-garde. From the moment guests dropped off their car with the valet, to the moment they witnessed the surprise grand finale, attendees were treated to an experience they won’t forget.

The Results

The Debate Hall

  • A 360 degree transformation of the High Bay Lab – a massive industrial 3-storey concrete test facility – to “double-down” on its industrial atmosphere
  • An uplit, plexi-glass debate stage, framed by a 30-foot projection-mapped concrete L-shaped wall
  • A hanging spherical projection canvas hosting custom retrofuturism content live mixed with school branding
  • A custom, realtime wireless voting voting solution for all audience members, seamlessly providing instant results, tailored to the event theme
  • An ambitious large-scale lighting treatment which transformed at different points in the event
  • Custom live soundscapes created and manipulated with heavy drone and synthesizer sounds to set an eerie mood


The Reception

  • A gourmet food and drink experience, curated by famed Canadian chef David Lee of Nota Bene
  • Debate results delivered to the announcement ceremony via drone
  • 360 degree transformation of a student lounge to an upscale reception hall, with furniture, ambient lighting, and an assortment of live plants
  • A stunning surprise finale consisting of a GPS-coordinated drone light show, set to theme music, and reflecting themes and colours of the Lassonde School of Engineering

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