University College Revitalization, Toronto

Kohn Shnier and ERA Architects, in joint venture, Toronto

Images courtesy of Kohn Shnier

This was a project with many design mandates, but most significantly, the library’s relocation and modernization had to accommodate, preserve, restore, and complement the legacy of University College, one of the University of Toronto’s most significant heritage buildings occupying pride-of-place at the top of Kings College Circle. To create universal accessibility in a building historically challenging to navigate, a judicious use of ramps was added at minor level changes, and a new elevator was installed. Supporting the main space of the library are a new reading room, a conferencing center, rejuvenated classrooms, student writing center, and a new café. To integrate new IT, lighting, A/V and mechanical systems in a way that “touches the existing fabric lightly,” the mezzanine was conceived as an oversized piece of furniture that houses significant infrastructure and the access requirements for future modifications while barely touching the historic plaster walls.