One Spadina Crescent project in Toronto receives a prestigious Holcim Award

Nader Tehrani and Katie Faulkner, principals at NADAAA, received a Holcim Award recently for their design of the Daniels Faculty’s new home at One Spadina Crescent, one of Toronto’s most prominent and historic addresses. Presented by the Holcim Foundation, the awards recognize “projects and visions that contribute to a more sustainable built environment.”

The Holcim Awards jury called the One Spadina project “a rare approach towards bringing a heritage building back to life through new construction, one respectful of the existing structure, while introducing new spatial qualities to the entire ensemble.”

The foundation also commended the project’s approach to sustainability: “The project’s basic objectives are to rehabilitate existing urban, landscape, and architectural elements — and, to demonstrate the [University of Toronto’s] aim to foreground sustainability as part of its pedagogic program via state-of-the-art construction materials and energy systems.”

The jury further commended the design for creating a “dialogue between the past and the present,” adding that this dialogue is “most clearly expressed in the sequence of spaces at the intersection of the ‘new’ and the ‘old’.”

Renewal of the existing historic building on the iconic site is now underway, and work to build the modern addition will commence this fall. Once complete, the project will be a model of sustainable construction, with a resilient structure and the ability to adapt over time. Features such as rainwater harvesting, extensive daylighting and bicycle parking, plus green roofs built to incorporate photovoltaic technology as it evolves, are part of a broader low-carbon approach to lowering the project’s environmental impact.

The Holcim jury expressed a particular respect for “the efforts undertaken to integrate environmental principles in the development of the design, without falling into the pitfalls and clichés of ‘sustainability.’ On the contrary, new standards for architecture are confidently brought to the fore.”

Architecture and Urbanism professor Richard Sommer, dean of the Daniels Faculty, joined Baudouin Nizet, CEO of Holcim Canada, and jury member Lola Sheppard, a partner with Lateral Office, to present Tehrani and Faulkner with the award on Sept. 18 in a ceremony at Toronto’s Evergreen Brickworks.

The Holcim prize is one of many awards that NADAAA has received. Earlier this month, the office was named the top design firm in the United States for the second year in a row by Architect, the magazine of the American Institute of 2 Architects. Tehrani has received 15 Progressive Architecture Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture (2002), and the Cooper Hewitt Award for Architecture (2007). Recent commissions either completed or underway include the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, and the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

One Spadina is a $72-million dollar project, which has received substantial support from the University of Toronto and lead donors John and Myrna Daniels. Last year, the Daniels Faculty launched a campaign to raise $50 million, $45 million of which will support the redevelopment of One Spadina ($5 million of John and Myrna Daniels’ gift is devoted to new scholarships for students.) The faculty’s fundraising campaign has recently received several new landmark gifts from alumni and friends, and continues to seek new levels of support from a broad spectrum of donors in the art, design, and city building community. The One Spadina project will have a major impact on students, the professions, and the city.

The Holcim Foundation has recognized the work of several members of the Daniels Faculty in recent years. Lecturer Jonathan Enns also received an award at last week’s ceremony. The designer — whose current work investigates how design systems (digital and otherwise) can be used to understand, manipulate and intelligently introduce foreign elements into design geometry — was awarded a “Next Generation” prize for his development of an interlocking panelized timber system. Professor Aziza Chaouni received the International Gold Award in 2009, and Professor Mason White won the North American Gold Award in 2011. Przemyslaw Latoszek won third prize in the Next Generation category while he was a student at the Daniels Faculty in 2011.

The Holcim Foundation received a total of 211 entries in this year’s North American competition. Out of these, the One Spadina project and Jonathan Enns’ work were the only Canadian projects to be recognized.

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