Designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects, a new addition at The University of Toronto Innis College transforms and modernizes an existing building while preserving its unique identity and sense of place in continuity with a tradition of learning, connection, and exchange of ideas.
The University initially engaged the architects to develop a concept remedying the lack of space within the existing building while also investigating new paths forward that respect the College's architectural fabric while reflecting contemporary and anticipated uses. The existing building, which combines a heritage-listed Victorian home and a mid-70s brick structure by Diamond Meyers, was carefully considered throughout the design process.
The resulting design accommodates 2000 students within a series of intimate spaces, including offices, classrooms, an expanded café, food servery, and rooftop space.
Several double-height spaces and light wells introduce additional natural light into the building's interiors. At the same time, transparent facades provide glimpses into the heart of the design, being a re-established courtyard.
The courtyard's scale, proportion and function are likened to the idea of a Town Hall, with updated modern features such as a state-of-the-art screening room. The gravitational centre of the building, the courtyard also transforms a previously underutilized green space into an inviting outdoor area that extends the social heart of the building outdoors. A spacious roof garden on the fourth floor provides additional space for gathering away from the urban streets and interior courtyard.
Circulation routes are seamlessly integrated with the historic structure, improving student flow within, around, and through the building. The design also addresses accessibility issues, proving more permeability on site, augmenting indoor-outdoor connections, and increasing the school's presence off the University's main thoroughfare.
As per University Policy, the addition was required to achieve an energy performance level 40% better than the industry standard ASHRAE benchmark. Furthermore, The University of Toronto has recently embarked on a Low-Carbon Action Plan, with a target of 32 kg / C02e/m2 for new construction. The additional currently registers an 11.9 kg/C02e/m2 rating.