Academics are undeniably at the core of university life. Caught in the midterm season, students have their heads buried in textbooks and notes with an ample amount of coffee standing by. Yet athletics remain a great source of student stress relief—and increasingly, a field of significant academic research. With the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Parapan Am Games quickly approaching and the University of Toronto looking to create a top-notch athletics facility, a partnership was created to construct the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

The $38.5 million sports complex, part of the fourth and final phase of the $98 million Varsity Centre complex renewal, is designed by Vancouver's Patkau Architects and Toronto's MJM Architects. The 6-storey high building will be home to research and teaching labs, a strength and conditioning centre, a 2,000-seat basketball and volleyball field and a futsal court that will be used, along with other amenities of the building, for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoGoldring Centre in its surroundings, image by scamander24

The 11,000 gross square meters of the site will be completely accessible to all university students, staff and graduates in the years following the Games, although most of it will be open to UofT students as of early November 2014. The building's innovative technology and design aims to enhance users' experience, as shown in the image below, where the weightlifting facility floors are built on top of a spring system in order to withstand the repeated blow of the dropped weights. Also, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities are at the service of users enabling world-class coaching and training.

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoSome floors are built on top of a spring system to withstand the repeated blow of the dropped weights, image by Brandon Leal

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoState-of-the-art equipment is at the service of users, image by Brandon Leal

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoA multi-purposed room located on top of the inner terraced levels, image by Brandon Leal

Intending to complete and improve Ontario's high performance sport infrastructure by creating a sport-focused environment like no other in the province, the Goldring Center will support a combination of science, research, teaching, medicine, training, and coaching in the field of sports. The Biomechanics lab, in the picture below, will be comprised of a new fitness research equipment allowing researchers to analyze athletes' performances, while the relocated Sport Medicine Clinic will offer a wide variety of therapies and medical treatments to approximately 50,000 patient visits pear year, which is twice as much as its current capacity in its existing location.

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoThe future Biomechanics and Sport Medicine Laboratory, image by Brandon Leal

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoThe future Sport Medicine Clinic, image by Brandon Leal

Moving on to the building's structural scheme, the main basketball and volleyball court built in the B1 basement level of the complex presented a structural challenge, as the upper steel structure has to be supported by high deflection trusses, spanning across the edifice to allow the large open space. An extensive and permanent water drainage system also had to be installed under the building's slab due to high water table conditions.

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoThe underground basketball and volleyball stadium, image by Brandon Leal

Winner of an international design competition, the complex's impressive white-painted steel structure is clearly visible through the large polygonal glass wall on the eastern facade, distinguishing itself from the black cladding now covering most of the edifice. The glass cut-out section brings tons of natural lights to a large multi-level space, from which one can enjoy views of Devonshire Place, the Varsity Blues Stadium and parts of the Toronto skyline in the background.

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoView of the city through the glass wall, image by am29

The outdoor spaces are composed of a white granite pavement, highly contrasting with the black cladding of the building. Trees planted within the new pedestrian zone will eventually add a bit of warmth to the glass and steel surroundings. Staircases leading to the underground levels of the facility punctuate that small plaza without breaking the open feeling thanks to glass railings. 

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoThe steel structure is clearly visible through the glass wall from the outside, image by Kram74

Finally, the high-end and sustainable structure aims to achieve LEED Silver certification, translating into an improvement of at least 25% over the requirements stated by the Model National Energy Code. Undoubtedly, this new facility is adding needed and up-to-date sport amenities to the UofT's St. George campus, in line with its tradition of high-quality architecture.

Goldring Centre, Patkau Architects, MJM Architects, Varsity, UofT, TorontoStaircases leading to the inner levels of the building, image by Kram74

For additional information and renderings, check out our dataBase file for the project, linked below. If you want to get involved in the discussion, check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.