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U of T Scarborough rolls out the welcome mat for Doors Open Toronto

The Andrews Building (left) and Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre will be open for guided tours on May 27 as part of Doors Open Toronto. (Photos by Ken Jones)

Come see two of the most acclaimed buildings at U of T Scarborough during Doors Open Toronto on May 27. 

Doors Open Toronto features 150 significant buildings across the city and remains one of the most popular city-wide events of the year. Given this year’s theme is Heritage, U of T Scarborough’s locations – the historical  Andrews Building and state-of-the-art Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre – make an excellent fit.

U of T architecture students will lead tours around what are now called the Humanities and Science Wings, but together are still informally known as the Andrews Building. Opened in 1966, it is the largely untouched original building of what was then Scarborough College. It’s become a renowned beacon of architectural history that also marks an important shift in building tradition. 

“There’s a real connectedness to the campus, a connectedness to the landscape, to the earth, to that materiality that grounds the building in its particular site,” says campus architect Jennifer Adams Peffer.  

“One of the things I love about this building is the way that you are able to meander through the building and get different views and exposures to the inside and the outside.”

At only 31 years old Australian architect John Andrews, who also designed the CN Tower, began designing the original building of what was then Scarborough College. The structure was internationally acclaimed as an example of the Brutalist movement in architecture, a style characterized by bold, intricately designed buildings with exposed concrete that swept North America and Europe in the wake of the Second World War.

The building also embodied the Modernist school of architectural thought, which embraced connection to the environment. The Andrews Building, which curves to hug the Highland Creek valley, had originally been planned to sit in the valley. Upon consulting several professionals - including a zoologist - Andrews moved its location to the top of the valley to allow more sunlight to hit the campus. 

“What’s fascinating about the Andrews Building is that it’s made primarily of four materials; concrete, wood, terracotta tile and glass,” Adams Peffer says.

“These materials are strongly connected to the Earth and give a unifying feel to the building, which is what John Andrews strove to achieve in his design.”  

A short walk along Military Trail leads to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Though it opened just three years ago, the massive sports and aquatic facility is a legacy of the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. The centre, which is the size of five football fields, has four gyms, two Olympic-size pools, a diving tank, running track, climbing wall and fitness centre that spans two floors.

The centre is the largest infrastructural investment ever made in Canadian amateur sports. It was built through a unique collaboration between the City of Toronto and U of T Scarborough.

“It’s really multifaceted in its ability to bring people to (the campus),” says Jeff Miller, interim director of facilities management. “It’s symbolic of what public institutions in partnership can do for the community.”

“We believe that it’s a hopeful beginning for the continued growth of our campus and connection of the Eastern GTA with other parts of the city.”

Tours will focus on the acclaimed accessibility and environmental features of the centre. The centre was the first building at U of T Scarborough to be awarded the prestigious “Gold” certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ranking system.

It has also been hailed for its accessibility features, including fully accessible entrances, dressing rooms, lockers, bathrooms and showers, medical and treatment room tables with adjustable heights, and tethering stations for service animals throughout the centre.

Tours are being held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 27 in both buildings.   

 




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