For decades, Torontonians have grown accustomed to a peculiar view up Spadina Avenue. Past College Street and the shops of Chinatown, and past the Silver Dollar, the 7-11, and the Waverly hotel, the view north on Spadina terminates at 1 Spadina Crescent, a stately yet derelict 19th Century Gothic Revival landmark that has long greeted the eye with a grimy grandiosity.

The building—originally home to Knox College, a Presbyterian theological school, when it opened in 1875— gradually fell into disrepair and partial disuse after Knox College, by then a part of U of T, moved to its current location in 1914. In the decades since, the building housed a WWI military barracks and army hospital (where a young Amelia Earhart worked as a nurse), a medical research lab, a student newspaper, and the Eye Bank of Canada. However, despite the various temporary tenants, the building lacked a clear purpose, entering a state of neglect and disrepair.

Then, in 2013, 1 Spadina Crescent was announced as the future home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, at U of T. This major announcement entailed a full-scale restoration of the original building, as well as a modern addition on the north side of the site, designed by NADAAA. Heritage restoration of 1 Spadina Crescent is being overseen by ERA Architects, with the 19th Century building now in the midst of a meticulous preservation process.

New photos bring us an update on the restoration progress, with the facade 1 Spadina Crescent now looking noticeably cleaner and brighter as construction continues.

        A view of restoration progress from the southwest, image by Craig White

Restoration of heritage buildings is often an immensely complex process, since centuries old bricks are often too vulnerable to withstand strenuous sand or water-blasting. This means that preservation work proceeds with painstaking care, often at a relatively slow pace. Nonetheless, these new photos reveal significant progress in restoration work.

        A view of restoration progress from the west, image by Craig White

The brickwork has been restored to its natural colour, and the intricate 19th century masonry is now more clearly apparent, with the arches and decorations more prominent.

        A view of construction from the north, image by Craig White

A view from the north (above) shows us that demolition of earlier additions has been completed, while the construction of the NADAAA addition has entered preparatory stages.

Once complete, the north addition will house a large lecture hall, as well as technologically advanced lab and study facilities, providing the space necessary to consolidate the landscaping, design, and architecture schools, under one roof.

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

While the restored original building has already taken shape, renderings of the completed project give us an idea of how the new addition will look. We should expect to see more construction progress on the north side in the coming months, as exterior restoration work paves the way for further progress on the new addition.

    East side of the addition, with public plaza, image courtesy of NADAAA

We will keep you regularly updated with the latest news and pictures as construction continues in the coming months. 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, or add your comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Adamson Associates Architects, Eastern Construction, Entuitive