For the first time since 2003, the organizers of the Doors Open Waterloo Region event are adding an “Into Science + Tech" theme, bringing 19 of the region's foremost tech companies onto an itinerary of 48 buildings open for free public tours on Saturday, September 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The more familiar roster of buildings of interest for the Doors Open event include such buildings as Cambridge City Hall, several area churches, the St. Jacobs Railway Museum, the Stevanus Family Farm in Bloomingdale, and the Waterloo County Gaol. But taking advantage of the Kitchener-Waterloo region's reputation as a world-class technology hub, several of the area's most prominent tech players will also be throwing open their doors to the public for free tours. "Visit special places that have earned our region an international reputation as a hub of science and technology," says the event's website. "Explore some of Waterloo Region's best known, and some of its best kept secrets." This year, the public will be able to visit, among others, construction innovators Bridgit in their Kitchener headquarters, audio-visual pioneers Christie, Clearpath Robotics, Conestoga College’s Engineering and Information Technology Campus, Google's Kitchener-Waterloo office, mappedin, the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre in Waterloo, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, retail flyer company rebee, Shopify's Waterloo headquarters, Square, retail loyalty company Sweet Tooth, and the Wilfrid Laurier University Science Building. While access is free, some locations are only available for pre-booked guided tours, such as the one for Perimeter Institute, which is already full. There are several activities and performances for children, and also some walking tours, including for the Architectural Conservancy Ontario, and the West Montrose Kissing Bridge Heritage walking tour. Several free talks will also be taking place, including: Architecture and Emotion: The Psychological Impact of Built Spaces In this talk, Colin Ellard will describe the many ways in which the design of buildings influences what you think, how you feel, and who you are. Drawing on research from his Urban Realities Laboratory at the University of Waterloo, his personal experiences and the fascinating surroundings at St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Ellard will explain how the new science of place can help us to understand the vital connections between psyche and surroundings. St. Peter's Church 49 Queen St. N., Kitchener (in the sanctuary) 2 p.m. Open seating - FREE Colin Ellard's most recent book is Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday LIfe, which will be available at the Words Worth Books table. He leads a team of researchers at the University of Waterloo studying how our built environment affects us, and he writes and speaks extensively on the topic. His 2011 TED Talk on wayfinding was titled Getting Lost. TALK: The Impact of Design and Architecture on Culture Google Kitchener-Waterloo Office 51 Breithaupt St., Kitchener in the Google café 11 a.m. Seating for 80; open seating Find out how Google's culture is both shaped by, and reflected in, the design and architecture of its buildings. Andrea Janus, Facilities Manager for Google Canada, along with Anthony Orasi and Deanna Hayko, designers of Google's Kitchener-Waterloo office (previously with B+H Architects), will shed some light on the making of great workspaces. Followed by a Q&A session. TALK: Glen Smith on the Blues in Kitchener 48 Ontario St., Kitchener 1 p.m. Take this rare opportunity to visit the "birthplace of the blues" in Kitchener. Built in 1914, 48 Ontario housed Bell Telephone offices until 1941, was home to Royal Canadian Legion Branch 50 from 1946 to 2001, and in the mid-1980s hosted a concert series featuring well known blues musicians. At 1 p.m. the organizer of those concerts, Glenn Smith, will give a brief talk about them and answer visitors' questions. TOUR: Built to Last - 200th anniversary tours Joseph Schneider Haus National Historic Site 466 Queen St. S., Kitchener 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. From cellar to attic, these guided tours will peel back the centuries to reveal how Joseph Schneider Haus has stood the test of time. See and feel the building materials, and learn about the construction techniques, manual skills and tools of the trade that raised these walls in 1816. Find out how historians, archaeologists, conservators and skilled trades workers restored the house to the 19th century, setting the stage for a museum of living, breathing history. Discover the "anatomy" of a landmark!