Diamond and Schmitt at U of T Scarborough

University of Toronto Scarborough inaugurated a new Instructional Centre last week – the first building and a key anchor for the future development of this fast-growing suburban campus.

“The Instructional Centre has a transparent and welcoming presence as a gateway building connecting the existing and the new campus of UTSC. The design creates a sense of community and access,” says Donald Schmitt, principal at Diamond and Schmitt Architects.

At entry to the triangular-shaped site is a pedestrian plaza that provides an outdoor forum with a 50-foot (15- metre-high) media wall for projections and events. A four-storey skylit atrium creates a dramatic focal point that is animated with balconies, a rooftop garden, a courtyard and a two-storey glass bridge, all of which brings the natural light and landscape courts deep inside the building. The atrium also houses the largest art commission by UTSC, a contemporary sculpture by Daniel Young and Christian Giroux.

The 165,000-square-foot (15,300-square-metres), four-storey facility includes teaching spaces, student areas and faculty offices for the Management and Computer and Mathematical Sciences (CMS) programs. State-of-the-art lecture halls with seating for 350, 120, 80 and four rooms with 60-person capacity are designed with the careful attention afforded theatres, with prime consideration given to sightlines, acoustics and an intimacy achieved by horseshoe and oval-shaped seat configurations. Each hall has advanced digital capabilities and displacement ventilation for optimal comfort levels.

Sustainable project innovations include 23,700 square feet (2200 square metres) of roof area equipped with an 80kW photovoltaics solar array system that will allow the college to sell excess energy to the Ontario Power Agency through its Feed-In Tariff program. A green roof covers the auditorium. Vertical and horizontal exterior sunshades are positioned in response to solar orientation to minimize glare and solar heat gain. The building has high thermal performance double-glazed insulated fritted glass. The office wing has a 43,000-square-foot (4000- square-metre) unitized curtain wall system with panoramic vision glass and operable awning windows. Views are maximized to the scenic ravine setting of the campus.

“With this addition, overall academic space increases by 25 per cent on the UTSC campus and students will enjoy more access to state-of-the-art technology, high-quality lecture rooms that are designed to foster engagement, informal gathering spaces for social interaction, and much more,” says professor Franco Vaccarino, vice-president University of Toronto and principal University of Toronto Scarborough.

The project had a remarkably tight schedule – just two years from design concept to completed building. This required intensive planning and scheduling that delivered the project on time and on budget.