The University of Toronto has made its plans public for the building it intends to replace the shuttered McLaughlin Planetarium on Queen's Park. (A new planetarium is to be built n St. George Street.) Designed by renowned New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Toronto based architectsAlliance acting as Executive Architect and ERA Architects handling heritage aspects, the 9-storey building would bring a number of programs under one roof, and highly articulated exterior walls.

Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, U of T, by Diller Scofidio + RenfroLooking northwest to the Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Immediately south of the Royal Ontario Museum, the footprint of the Centre for Civilizations and Cultures extends south to fill the area between the Faculty of Law's 1901-built Falconer Hall and the Faculty of Music's Modernisst Edward Johnson Building, leaving a small courtyard between it and that building. To the south is more of the Faculty of Law's facilities including the 1902-built Flavelle House, and its 2016-completed extension, the Jackman Law Building.

Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, U of T, by Diller Scofidio + RenfroSite Plan for the Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Diller Scofidio + Renfro's website describes the design moves the shape the building and how it interacts with its surroundings:

90 Queen’s Park will be a central gathering space receiving visitors from all directions. The design buries the access road under the building to create a generous new entry plaza with a terraced landscape, welcoming visitors from the South and Philosopher’s Walk. A cafe and restaurant extends from the inside-out with a gently stepped hardscape and softscape marking entry from the North. At ground level, the Centre provides direct access into the Edward Johnson Building and Falconer Hall. Located on the second floor, the School of Cities’s Urban Lab forms a canopy for the Southern entry with classrooms performing the same function at the North plaza. Floating above neighboring buildings within the erosion, the Centre’s 250-seat recital hall and a flexible event space provide larger gathering spaces where visitors can enjoy views of downtown Toronto.


Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, U of T, by Diller Scofidio + RenfroLooking southwest to the Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Inside, the building is marked by an offset grand staircase that gradually shifts from the core of the building at ground level, over to the glazed eastern edge as it climbs upwards, initially providing views of historic Falconer Hall before climbing above it to see the Queens Park surroundings and eventually the city beyond. The stair links open spaces meant to foster interaction between the from several faculties with space in the building.

Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, U of T, by Diller Scofidio + RenfroGrand staircase in the Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Peaking out over the trees o the 6th level will be a 250-seat recital hall to be primarily used by the Faculty of Music. The hall will have two-storey high windows as its southern wall, providing a gorgeous view of the downtown skyline as a magical background for performances held there.

Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, U of T, by Diller Scofidio + RenfroRecital Hall in the Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

The University's submission has not been published by the City of Toronto yet, so we do not have statistics nor a complete list of Faculties that will be in the building yet. We will be back wth more information as it becomes available, but in the meantime, more detailed images 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.

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