This short-listed proposal for the design of the University of Toronto Mississauga's North Building Expansion was designed to respond to its distinctive context. UTM is a unique campus, with a growing reputation in academic achievement and a bucolic setting amongst mature woodlands. Within this context, UTM requested the development of a new academic building on the site of the existing North Building, to accommodate a variety of programs.
A Department of Mathematics and Computational Sciences, Psychology, Drama Rehearsal studios, new classrooms, and expanded student amenities were to be included in the renovation. Phase A was the first of a three phase redevelopment of the North Building. The fully redeveloped North Building would have consolidated space needs in the Faculty of Humanities, while redefining the western edge of the UTM Campus, as well as the Campus Green and related pedestrian circulation paths. Thus, Kearns Mancini's proposal took advantance of an opportunity to integrate academia with architecture, to achieve a holistic ecology of human interaction and integration within the environment.
The massing of the building is composed of several major volumes. The most prominent is the Wintergarden. Its glass wall and operable solar curtain animate the south façades, depending on the season and time of the day. The prominent solar chimneys can be seen from many vantage points within the campus, from where they become identifiable icons, echoing the ecologically-minded design of the building. The west façade terminates the Five Minute Walk and begins a path toward the Instructional Centre and Library, which invites students from the residences to the south. Irregular course stone anchors the base of the Wintergarten, while the base of the ‘academic program block’ provides transparency to the cafeteria beyond.
The Outer Circle Road elevation was a tripartite composition. The middle glass volume conveyed the triple height space behind the main front entrance, a prelude to the Wintergarten space beyond. To the south of the main entrance was the ‘classroom block’ of the building, which was to be clad in local manufactured stone panels, while the north portion afforded more windows for faculty offices, for views across Outer Circle Road to the woodlot. The north elevation was deliberately kept utilitarian in nature. Its simplicity and directness were considerations for the future Phase B expansion; the majority of this façade could easily be adapted, modified or removed to receive the next building phase.