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Explore UTSC’s story of intriguing architecture at Doors Open Toronto


by  Robert Onley

On May 29 from 10 am to 5 pm, the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) will showcase its campus as part of the 11th annual Doors Open Toronto. The popular citywide celebration offers community members an opportunity to explore the architectural history of UTSC on self-guided tours through the campus. Everyone is welcome and the event is free.

A lot has changed since 1966 when UTSC first opened its doors. What was once a one-building campus, UTSC now comprises twelve full-sized academic buildings, with the thirteenth set to open in March 2011. As the geographical footprint of the campus has increased, so too has the number of students, necessitating continued growth and development.

UTSC’s early history

UTSC was founded with the creation of the Andrews Building (called the Science and Humanities Wings today).

Designed by renowned Australian architect John Andrews (who also designed the CN Tower), the building spans a full kilometre across the rim of the valley, and is a testament to the uncompromising and distinctive qualities of a brutalist design. Its bold concrete structure is complemented by the lush surrounding greenery and the building is still recognized the world-over as the pre-eminent example of a modernist “megastructure”.

Inside, the angular, tiered construction of the Science and Humanities Wings creates wide street-like walkways with balconies that run the building’s length. Converging at the Meeting Place, sunlight floods through a mesh-like concrete ceiling down onto UTSC’s town square below. From this central gathering area, the Science Wing’s many vista windows offer wide views of the campus greenspaces.

The 2000’s: A Force of Change

Up until the early 2000’s, UTSC’s main campus remained largely unchanged, except for the openings of the Recreation Centre in 1972 and the Bladen Building in 1973. However, with the student population predicted to double in the first decade of the 2000’s, university planners crafted an exciting new campus vision for the 21st century.

For those who have not visited the campus in years, UTSC’s physical growth since 2001 can only be described as remarkable. UTSC’s 21st century expansion began with the 2003 opening of the Academic Resource Centre (ARC), designed by architects Brian MacKay-Lyons with Rounthwaite Dick Hadley.

The ARC is UTSC’s new library and was built with a copper finish which will slowly tarnish from metallic browns to the traditional rustic green. Designed as a response to the architectural forms of the original Andrews Building, the ARC is a simple but impressive structure which set the tone for new buildings to follow.

Sitting across from the ARC and Humanities Wing is the Management Building, which opened in 2004, and was designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects. The Management Building’s extensive glazing creates a light, modest exterior, in strong contrast to the massive qualities of the ARC and Humanities Wing. Meanwhile the interior atrium, composed of grand cherry wood, continues the internal pedestrian street theme of the Andrews Building.

Also opening in 2004 was the Doris McCarthy Gallery (DMG), situated between the Bladen Wing and the ARC. Built as a contemporary gallery, and as a repository of artwork by UTSC alumnus and renowned Canadian artist Doris McCarthy, the DMG acts as a terminal feature for the upper interior ‘street’ that connects with the ARC.

Heading back towards Military Trail is the Student Centre, which opened in 2004, and was designed by Stantec Architecture (formerly Dunlop Architects). The L.E.E.D.-certified Student Centre was a project initiated and funded by students, and was built using 18-tons of recycled steel from the Royal Ontario Museum renovation as part of a sustainable development program.

With an award-winning architectural design, the Student Centre provides UTSC students with a much-needed facility for clubs and food services, while also serving as a public transportation hub. Crafted in titanium, its distinctly-shaped butterfly roof establishes a clear main entrance to the campus and features a basement multi-use restaurant called Rex’s Den.

Created at the same time as the Student Centre was the Arts and Administration Building (AA), which opened in Fall 2005, and was designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects Inc. The AA Building serves as an unambiguous entrance to the school, jutting out in front of the drop-off loop, with its soft-yellow brick warmly welcoming students.

In October 2008, the Science Wing was extended with the opening of the three-story Science Research Building, and was designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects, providing a vibrant, collaborative space for interdisciplinary teaching and research in physical, environmental and life sciences.

Exciting Future Growth

The 2000’s saw an unprecedented expansion at UTSC. Given the opening of the Instructional Centre in early 2011, and the enormous new aquatics and athletics centre currently under design to be constructed for the 2015 Pan American Games, the next decade is set to continue that trend with the emergence of UTSC’s northern campus.

For those with an interest in architecture, and for those graduates who might not have been on campus for a while, UTSC welcomes you to tour the campus on May 29 for Doors Open Toronto.

For further information visit the UTSC Campus Tour website and select ‘Campus Overview’ to begin an online exploration of UTSC’s buildings. Click here for a video slideshow of UTSC’s historic timeline and the story of the campus’s growth. For more information about Doors Open, please click here.

Robert Onley is a 2009 political science graduate from UTSC. He is currently studying law at the University of Windsor.

© University of Toronto Scarborough