The vision for the Daniels Building was to create a new facility whose physical presence would reflect and enhance the university’s pedagogy. It was important that the new home allow for increased collaboration across programs; be adaptable to ongoing changes within design education and practice; and facilitate creativity, research, and the exploration of new ideas.
Designing a bold contemporary addition to a landmark heritage building, circa 1875, is not without its challenges. Very little had been invested in maintaining the site over the previous 50 years. The building was pared back to its roots, exposing brick walls and restoring original details, sharpened with contemporary features.
In the contemporary addition, the undulating ceiling came under scrutiny as a major cost item. Conventional building practice suggested that the form could only be achieved with hand-troweled plaster. The lead architects proposed using cost-effective sheetrock and proved the viability of the concept with a 1:1 mock-up, fabricated in-house, bringing down the estimated costs by more than 50%. An innovative voided slab structural system was used to address several sustainable and aesthetic goals. Using recycled hollow plastic spheres to offset concrete material, voided slabs use 30% less concrete than conventional cast-in-place floor slabs and allow exposed architectural concrete ceilings to achieve a longer span with a smaller carbon footprint.
The site sits atop a corridor that has played a defining role in the development of Toronto as a cosmopolitan city. The renewal of 1 Spadina Crescent has reconnected this vitally important site to the city in a new way, reinventing it as a gateway to the university and providing a northern focal point for the Spadina corridor. The heritage renovation has returned the building’s interior spaces to their original format and austere beauty.
University of Toronto; also NADAAA; Adamson Associates Architects; ERA Architects; Public Work