New buildings continue to add to the huge main campus of York University, finally served by rapid transit following the opening of the TTC’s Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension late last year. Dating back to a 2013 referendum where York U students voted in favour of building a second building dedicated to student space to complement an existing Student Centre, York University’s new 126,000 sq. ft. Student Centre officially opened its doors yesterday with a big celebration. 

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoYork University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

To celebrate the opening, students and faculty were treated to a free breakfast at Vari Hall, followed by a barbecue and mini-carnival.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoOpening of the new York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

The lineups for the slides and bouncy castles thinned out as the crowd began to explore the new four-storey Student Centre. Cannon Design's architecture has the welcoming building function as a "living room" for the campus, its crystal-clear curtainwall façades offering views into and from the building. Scattered punched windows, and vertical striations add rhythm to the stacked box massing above, with sets of wooden fins adding warmth and acting as brise soleils on both the north and south ends of the cantilevered upper volume.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoFacing southeast to the new York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

Inside the building, students have access to an array of study, meeting, lounge, studio, club offices, assembly, and multi-faith prayer spaces. Upon entry, visitors are greeted by a series of multi-function spaces.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoInside the new York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

While most of the material palette is concrete, steel, and glass, the ground floor also includes a space with wood slat ceilings and warm finishes, with a split-level arrangement overlooking level "0". This partially-sunken floor responds to the differing grades of the building's north and south sides, featuring ground-level windows with floor-to-ceiling glazing that fill the space with natural light.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoLooking down to level 0 at the York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

Access between floors is provided via a bank of three elevators, along with a sculptural stair at the south end of the building. An exterior staircase negotiating the grade change on the building's south side—and seen in the first image in this article—features the same warm finishes, creating a visual connection between the interior and exterior.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoStairs at the York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

Among the building's standout spaces, a pair of multi-faith spaces occupy 1,115 m2 on the top floor. These are the rooms which cantilever out over the floors below, and feature vertical raw timber fins lining their large glazed exteriors, and complementary wood finishes within.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoMulti-faith space at the York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

The design also includes a number of sustainability features, such as bicycle parking, showers, green roofs, and high-performance glazing/curtain wall. Suggested through consultation with students, ample use of natural lighting promotes environmental sustainability, while gender-neutral washrooms promote all-gender equality.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoYork University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

To mark the opening day and complete the day’s festivities, a time capsule bearing 15,000 messages from students was buried in a landscaped area fronting the new building.

York University Student Centre, Cannon Design, TorontoTime capsule being lowered in front of the York University Student Centre, image by Jack Landau

Additional information and renderings can be found in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.