The University of Toronto has formally announced the new home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, and it is a site Torontonians have circled many a time.

South side image, looking north across Spadina Crescent, image courtesy of NADAAA

One Spadina Crescent is one of the city’s most prominent and historic addresses, having been built by the Presbyterian Church as a theological college in 1875. Though it has housed numerous functions in its day, in recent years it has become an isolated relic in the middle of a busy traffic circle.

South side image, looking north across Spadina Crescent, image from Google Street View

The project will renew the existing south-facing 19th century Gothic Revival building and develop the site’s northern section with a dramatic work of contemporary architecture that consolidates U of T’s architecture and urbanism programs within one precinct.

South side image, looking south down Spadina Avenue, image from Google Street View

North face of the addition, looking south down Spadina Avenue, image courtesy of NADAAA

The winning design team, selected by the University through an international competition, consists of Nader Tehrani, principal of Boston-based firm NADAAA, as the architect, with Toronto consultants Public Work on landscape design and ERA Architects as preservation architects.  

East side view with public plaza, image courtesy of NADAAA

East side view with outdoor theatre, image courtesy of NADAAA

The revitalization of the building includes a 100,000 sq ft addition in glass, stone, and steel that contains collaborative studio spaces, an advanced fabrication lab, a principal hall for major public events, and a public gallery. Pavilions located around the circular site’s perimeter will house a series of cross-disciplinary research venues devoted to city-building, such as the Global Cities Institute, the Model Cities Theatre and Laboratory, and the Institute for Architecture and Human Health.

An east-west walkway through the building will serve as an extension of the adjacent Russell Street and provide a critical pedestrian link across the site.

Site Plan illustrating the proposed addition to the north and the existing building to the south

“This major revitalization of One Spadina will be the catalyst for a much needed transformation of the University’s western edge between College and Bloor, still recovering from the threat of plans to turn the street into an expressway, which was blocked over a generation ago,” said Professor Richard Sommer, Dean of the Daniels Faculty. 

Architectural model of One Spadina Crescent, showing the existing building and the proposed addition

The Daniels Faculty recently launched a fundraising campaign, with $45 million earmarked toward the costs of the One Spadina project, with another $5 million to be put toward student awards. Various donations have been received to date, most significantly an additional personal contribution of $10 million from architect, developer and philanthropist John H. Daniels (BArch 1950, LLD Hon. 2011) and his wife Myrna Daniels, adding to their $14 million gift that initiated planning for the expansion and named the Faculty in 2008. These two benefactions, totaling a remarkably generous $24 million, are the largest gifts designated to architecture programs in Canadian history. Together, they will provide $19 million to the building project, and $5 million to the John and Myrna Daniels Scholars award program, which has so far recognized 27 students as the next generation of architects and designers to reimagine the buildings, landscapes, and cities of the 21st century.

John H. and Myrna Daniels with their team at the announcement

Shown following the announcement (left to right) The Daniels Corporation Senior Vice President Tom Dutton; Architects Katie Faulkner and Nader Tehrani, NADAAA; The Daniels Corporation CFO, Jim Aird; President, Mitchell Cohen; Chairman John H. Daniels; Myrna Daniels.

“John and Myrna Daniels are outstanding community builders, in every sense of the word,” said Professor David Naylor, President of the University of Toronto. “Their generosity and vision have again accelerated the Daniels Faculty in its rise to ever greater national and international prominence. The new facilities made possible by their latest benefaction will be a true landmark — an inspired repurposing of a unique site and a storied heritage building. I cannot imagine any use for One Spadina Crescent that could be more fitting than as a home for educating future generations of leading Canadian architects and designers.”
Complementing these extraordinary personal benefactions, The Daniels Corporation Senior Vice President Tom Dutton announced on behalf of the company’s management team and staff that The Daniels Corporation will contribute $1 million to the campaign, evenly divided between capital and The John and Myrna Daniels Scholars award program.
“The Daniels Corporation is thrilled to be part of this historic transformation,” said Tom Dutton, Senior Vice President of The Daniels Corporation. “My colleagues and I take great pride in our company’s history of innovation in the Greater Toronto Area, and we have always taken our lead from our founder. Through the dedicated and collaborative work of the entire team at The Daniels Corporation, we are able to support a world leading faculty of architecture, landscape, and design right in the heart of the city and we can’t think of a more fitting tribute to John’s visionary leadership than supporting students and revitalizing a building.”

The University expects the two-phase project to wrap up by late 2015, and is currently fundraising to find the remaining $24 million to fund the project.

There will be much more to talk about this project. Check back in with UrbanToronto as we update the status of this iconic site’s transformation. Meanwhile, many more renderings can be found in our dataBase entry for the project, linked below. Want to get in on the conversation? Choose the associated Project and Construction Forum thread link!

Related Companies:  Adamson Associates Architects, Eastern Construction, Entuitive