As part of the school's 'Creative City Campus' vision, OCAD University has announced new details of a plan to make the McCaul Street campus into a more vital centre of creative learning, and a more prominent part of Toronto's Downtown. Yesterday, the University announced that a design team of Morphosis Architects, Teeple Architects, and Two Row Architects will lead the revitalization and expansion of the main campus.

Located just south of Dundas on McCaul Street, OCAD's primary campus building is instantly recognizable for the Will Alsop-designed 'tabletop' suspended above the 1961-built brick building at 100 McCaul. Remaining fairly inconspicuous below the showpiece tabletop and behind Frank Gehry's more quietly iconic AGO addition, the mid-century building is now set for a major overhaul.

OCAD University, Toronto Aerial view of OCAD University, image by Jack Landau

First announced last year—with a concept plan developed by Diamond Schmitt—the project will see 95,000 ft² of existing space renovated and repurposed, along with a 55,000 ft² addition to the main campus building. With a greater emphasis on communal spaces and experiential learning, the revamped facility will feature a renovated and expanded library, significantly increased studio space, and an Indigenous Visual Culture and Student Centre. 

While much of the work will focus on expanding the facility at 100 McCaul, the library at 113 McCaul—located in the Annex Building across the street—and the historic George Reid House are also set to be refurbished. Facing onto Grange Park just east of the eponymous AGO mansion, George Reid House is set to become a venue for gathering, exhibition and digital presentation integrating contemporary design ideas and technology," according to the Creative City Campus website

According to OCAD President Sara Diamond, the revitalized and expanded campus will help fulfill a number of the University's educational goals. “Our campus expansion in the heart of Toronto’s creative district is aligned with our goal of creating a 21st century, healthy, accessible and creative environment where studio-based, experiential and collaborative learning can thrive.”

OCAD University, Toronto The main campus building at 100 McCaul Street, image via Google Maps

While details of the design have yet to emerge, the collaboration between Morphosis, Teeple, and Two Row, may yield another notable contribution to the McCaul Street corridor. Given the main campus building's proximity to two architectural icons, however, the design could introduce a more subtle, contextually focused addition to the area, rather than a new architectural showpiece. (More detailed architectural analysis is provided in the Globe and Mail).

However the design takes shape, the architectural team brings an impressive pedigree. While the internationally renowned Morphosis is led by Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne, local partner Teeple is regarded as one of Toronto's foremost firms, with UrbanToronto readers recently voting the Teeple-designed Picasso Condos as the best tall building completed in 2016.

OCAD University, Toronto Project architects Brian Proter, Thom Mayne, and Stephen Teeple

Finally, Oshweken, Ontario's Two Row Architect's brings a crucial element of Indigenous experience to a project in which the school hopes to ensure that "Indigeneity is embedded." Owned and staffed entirely by Native Canadians, Two Row works to promote "an architectural approach that realizes the meshing of local traditional symbols (Native arts/crafts/design) into current building technology," according to the firm's website

Following OCAD's ongoing plans to create a dramatic gateway to the campus through the redesigned Rosalie Sharp Pavilion, the newly announced project signals another major step for the University. With $27 million of funding received from Ontario's Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities in 2016, OCAD's 'Creative City Campus' plan is moving forward in revitalizing and expanding the school's key spaces, though a more detailed development and financing strategy for the project—which has an estimated cost of $60 million—are expected to be unveiled this year. 

***

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the plans continue to take shape. In the meantime, you can learn more about OCAD U's planned and ongoing projects by checking out our associated dataBase files, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space below, or join the ongoing conversation in our Forum.