Media Releases

The University of Toronto to transform an iconic Toronto landmark into the new home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design

June 11, 2013

TORONTO, ON — The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to unveiled its ambi­tious plans today to trans­form one of the most icon­ic sites in the city: One Spad­i­na Cres­cent.

The build­ing project will renew the south-fac­ing 19th cen­tu­ry Goth­ic Revival build­ing and build out the unre­al­ized north­ern face of the cir­cle with a stun­ning work of con­tem­po­rary archi­tec­ture. Designed by Nad­er Tehrani, prin­ci­pal of the inter­na­tion­al­ly acclaimed firm NADAAA, and his col­lab­o­ra­tor Katie Faulkn­er, the revi­tal­ized site will be the new home of the John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design.

Orig­i­nal­ly built as a vista to the lake along Spad­i­na Avenue — and lat­er home to the Knox Col­lege The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary and the Con­naught Lab­o­ra­to­ries — One Spad­i­na Cres­cent is one of Toronto’s most promi­nent and his­toric address­es. Its renew­al rep­re­sents the largest archi­tec­ture school expan­sion ever under­tak­en in Cana­da. When com­plete, the com­plex will be a focal point for edu­ca­tion, research and out­reach on how to build more sus­tain­able, beau­ti­ful and social­ly just cities.

“This major revi­tal­iza­tion of One Spad­i­na will be the cat­a­lyst for a much need­ed trans­for­ma­tion of the University’s west­ern edge between Col­lege and Bloor, still recov­er­ing from the threat of plans to turn the street into an express­way, which was blocked over a gen­er­a­tion ago.” said Pro­fes­sor Richard Som­mer, Dean of the Daniels Fac­ul­ty. “The project will con­sol­i­date U of T’s archi­tec­ture, art and urban design pro­grams with­in one precinct, and pro­vide a bridge from the Uni­ver­si­ty to the dynam­ic neigh­bour­hoods beyond.”

The Daniels Fac­ul­ty recent­ly launched a $50 mil­lion fundrais­ing cam­paign as part of the University’s Bound­less cam­paign. In total, $45 mil­lion of this cam­paign goal has been ear­marked toward the costs of the One Spad­i­na project. The remain­ing $5 mil­lion will go toward stu­dent awards. Of the total cam­paign goal, $24 mil­lion remains to be raised.

The Uni­ver­si­ty also announced today an addi­tion­al per­son­al con­tri­bu­tion of $10 mil­lion from archi­tect, devel­op­er and phil­an­thropist John H. Daniels (BArch 1950, LLD Hon. 2011) and his wife Myr­na Daniels, adding to their $14 mil­lion gift that ini­ti­at­ed plan­ning for the expan­sion and named the Fac­ul­ty in 2008. These two bene­fac­tions, total­ing a remark­ably gen­er­ous $24 mil­lion, are the largest gifts des­ig­nat­ed to archi­tec­ture pro­grams in Cana­di­an his­to­ry. Togeth­er, they will pro­vide $19 mil­lion to the build­ing project, and $5 mil­lion to the John and Myr­na Daniels Schol­ars award pro­gram, which has so far rec­og­nized 27 stu­dents as the next gen­er­a­tion of archi­tects and design­ers to reimag­ine the build­ings, land­scapes and cities of the 21st cen­tu­ry.

“John and Myr­na Daniels are out­stand­ing com­mu­ni­ty builders, in every sense of the word,” said Pro­fes­sor David Nay­lor, Pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. “Their gen­eros­i­ty and vision have again accel­er­at­ed the Daniels Fac­ul­ty in its rise to ever greater nation­al and inter­na­tion­al promi­nence.  The new facil­i­ties made pos­si­ble by their lat­est bene­fac­tion will be a true land­mark — an inspired repur­pos­ing of a unique site and a sto­ried her­itage build­ing. I can­not imag­ine any use for One Spad­i­na Cres­cent that could be more fit­ting than as a home for edu­cat­ing future gen­er­a­tions of lead­ing Cana­di­an archi­tects and design­ers.”

Com­ple­ment­ing these extra­or­di­nary per­son­al bene­fac­tions, The Daniels Cor­po­ra­tion Senior Vice Pres­i­dent Tom Dut­ton announced on behalf of the company’s man­age­ment team and staff that The Daniels Cor­po­ra­tion will con­tribute $1 mil­lion to the cam­paign, even­ly divid­ed between cap­i­tal and The John and Myr­na Daniels Schol­ars award pro­gram.

“The Daniels Cor­po­ra­tion is thrilled to be part of this his­toric trans­for­ma­tion,” said Tom Dut­ton, Senior Vice Pres­i­dent of The Daniels Cor­po­ra­tion. “My col­leagues and I take great pride in our company’s his­to­ry of inno­va­tion in the Greater Toron­to Area, and we have always tak­en our lead from our founder. Through the ded­i­cat­ed and col­lab­o­ra­tive work of the entire team at The Daniels Cor­po­ra­tion, we are able to sup­port a world lead­ing fac­ul­ty of archi­tec­ture, land­scape, and design right in the heart of the city and we can’t think of a more fit­ting trib­ute to John’s vision­ary lead­er­ship than sup­port­ing stu­dents and revi­tal­iz­ing a build­ing.”

The expan­sion of the his­toric build­ing will be an exem­plar of sus­tain­able build­ing and cre­ative urban design prac­tices. A new exte­ri­or com­posed of glass, stone and steel will pre­serve views of the her­itage building’s grand tur­rets, while a con­toured roof will har­vest rain­wa­ter and bathe the building’s inte­ri­or in nat­ur­al light.

The Uni­ver­si­ty select­ed Tehrani as the archi­tect, along with his for­mer firm Office dA, through an inter­na­tion­al design com­pe­ti­tion. (Tehrani estab­lished his cur­rent firm NADAAA short­ly after.) A rec­og­nized inno­va­tor, Tehrani’s work has received many pres­ti­gious awards for both design and sus­tain­abil­i­ty, includ­ing 14 Pro­gres­sive Archi­tec­ture Awards. The Toron­to firm Pub­lic Work, found­ed by Marc Ryan (for­mer direc­tor at West 8 Toron­to) and Adam Nick­lin (for­mer prin­ci­pal at DTAH), is work­ing with NADAAA on the design of the site’s land­scape. Adam­son Asso­ciates and ERA Archi­tects are also part of the larg­er team serv­ing as exec­u­tive and preser­va­tion archi­tects, respec­tive­ly.

The new build­ing will include col­lab­o­ra­tive stu­dio spaces, an advanced fab­ri­ca­tion lab, a prin­ci­pal hall for major pub­lic events, and a pub­lic gallery. Addi­tion­al pro­gram ele­ments envi­sioned for the site include pavil­ions to be embed­ded in the land­scape at the edge of the cir­cle, which will house a series of research and pub­lic venues devot­ed to the design-arts, archi­tec­ture and city-build­ing. The pavil­ions will house the Glob­al Cities Insti­tute, a new cross-dis­ci­pli­nary research cen­tre, as well as the Mod­el Cities The­atre and Lab­o­ra­to­ry, where stu­dents, researchers, and the pub­lic can employ inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy to project alter­nate forms of urban­iza­tion for Toron­to and oth­er cities.

The pavil­ions will also pro­vide space for a new Insti­tute for Archi­tec­ture and Human Health, which will anchor planned grad­u­ate pro­grams in this field. A state-of-the-art green roof will pro­vide an expand­ed site for the Faculty’s cel­e­brat­ed Green Roof Inno­va­tion Test­ing Lab­o­ra­to­ry (also known as the GRIT Lab).

“Remak­ing our built envi­ron­ments to address social, envi­ron­men­tal, and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges requires new kinds of think­ing, research, and col­lab­o­ra­tion,” said Pro­fes­sor Som­mer. “Our stu­dents and fac­ul­ty are push­ing new bound­aries and lead­ing change. The Daniels Faculty’s new home at One Spad­i­na will be the plat­form for devel­op­ing cre­ative approach­es to design­ing the built envi­ron­ment into the future.”



For more infor­ma­tion con­tact:

Dale Dun­can, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Offi­cer
John H. Daniels Fac­ul­ty of Archi­tec­ture, Land­scape, and Design
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to