U of T: Goldring Student Centre at Victoria University
Known to most as Victoria College, the university is autonomous and is located on the parcels of land to the north and south of Charles St. between Bay St. and Queen's Park Cr. Arguably, this is one of the most handsome parts of the University of Toronto, distinguished by a collection of heritage and modern buildings, draped in ivy, and framing stately quadrangles and beautiful gardens.
The campus has an extremely high quality of buildings from different eras: Burwash Dining Hall, the Isobel Bader Theatre, the Pratt Library and the McKinsey Building. On the north side of Charles the project includes the renovation of the existing 1952 Student Union building known as Wymilwood, one of the only Eric Arthur designs to have been constructed. Wymilwood is a historically listed building and the design is reminiscent of Ron Thom and Frank Lloyd Wright with a folded plate roof, exposed concrete structure, and a sculptural stair. The new programme doubles the square footage to approximately 40,000 sq. ft.
The design considers the context first and prioritizes the relationship between open space and buildings that characterize Victoria University. To the north of Wymilwood there is a small garden and a Student Residence, separated by a disproportionally large driveway. With considerable tenacity Moriyama + Teshima have pursued the closing of the driveway to "heal" the garden to create a quad inspired space that connects the Student Union building to the Residence. This gesture is the generator for the building.
Moriyama + Teshima have framed the quad with informal lounges and assembly halls. This gives focus to the Student Union building that will be known as the Goldring Student Centre. The expression of the building addition is a palette of stone, glass and green. To harmonize the Charles Street elevation, the addition matches the McKinsey building in street line and in height. The design is primarily a solid mass with punched windows linked to the old building with expanses of glass. The heat gain in the building is mitigated by a modern interpretation of the existing ivy covered walls. Stainless steel cables will extend from planting beds set off of the glazing on which twining vines will grow to create shading.
The Goldring Student Centre will create a much-needed hub of student activity on the Vic campus, providing space for meeting rooms, offices for student government and more than 20 student clubs, a renovated café, a two-storey lounge, an assembly space, a newly defined quadrangle and the addition of much-needed lockers for commuter students. It will give students, especially those who don’t live on campus, the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities, join a student club, socialize with friends, and engage in all the activities that make for a well-rounded student experience.