Inside 1 Spadina, the stunning new home of U of T’s architecture school

Inside 1 Spadina, the stunning new home of U of T’s architecture school

Few Toronto landmarks have been reinvented as many times as the Gothic revival building at 1 Spadina Crescent. Originally built as a Presbyterian school for Knox College in 1875, it later housed military barracks during WWI, a bustling medical research lab in the 1920s and, after U of T bought it in 1972, the school’s visual studies program. (In 2001, it became the site of the unsolved stabbing murder of visual arts teacher David Buller.) This fall, after a five-year, $69-million renovation, it will become the new home U of T’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, complete with a renovated interior and a new extension to the north.

The revitalization is a collaborative effort between Boston firm NADAAA, Toronto’s Adamson and Associates, landscape architects Public Work and heritage architects ERA. The team left the original building (pictured above) largely intact, except for a few internal facelifts and some maintenance, like brick cleaning, new roof flashing and new windows:

The firm strengthened the building’s original foundation by reinforcing it with extra concrete:

The northern extension is a three-storey structure with north-facing windows:

The old building has small spaces that can be used as offices, classrooms and critique rooms:

Nader Tehrani, one of NADAA’s principal architects, says the team designed the new building—which contains auditoriums, social spaces, workshop spaces, studio and large flexible spaces for lectures—to complement the smaller spaces of the original building:

It includes Principal Hall, a 400-seat auditorium:

Both the second and third storeys in the extension overlook the ground floor, where the school’s shops, galleries, library and café will be located. The building is designed in such a way that pedestrians on Russell Street (the road parallel to Spadina) will be able to walk through the building rather than around it:

The roof undulates gently, which lets natural light into the building while functioning as a sort of drainage system. Water will flow into cisterns that irrigate a series of gardens on the roof:

Tehrani says the billowing ceiling is meant to inspire intellectual flexibility in the students who’ll be working under it. “This building is an extension of their research, their programming and their creativity”: