Reinventing a hub of mid-century aerospace innovation, Downsview Park's new Aerospace Campus will see Toronto's former de Havilland aircraft plant adapted to become part of a new educational facility. With the Provincial and Federal governments pledging $44.2 million in combined funding, the now vacant factory—which long housed the Canadian Air and Space Museum—will return to life as part of Centennial College

The existing conditions, image via MJMA Architects

Along with the newly announced $25.8 million infusion of Provincial funds, Canada's Federal government has already set out a contribution $18.4 million towards the $72 million project, with the College and its private donors assembling the remaining $28 million. November 21st ceremonial ground breaking marked the official start of construction, with a completion date of 2018 targeted. The new facilities will include classrooms, laboratories, workshops, and a library, alongside the hangar space. Supporting the instructional spaces, the campus will also include offices and food services.

The groundbreaking ceremony, image via Centennial College

Designed by MacLennan Jaunklans Miller Architects (MJMA) Architects in association with Stantec, the new campus will offer a significant expansion over Centennial's existing aeronautics program at Scarborough Ashtonbee Campus. The expanded, four-acre facility will allow enrolment to expand to over 900, effectively tripling the existing quota of 300 students. Featuring 138,000 ft² of instruction space, the new facility will provide students with access the working runways of Downsview Airport, while a new, modern hangar will also be added to the repurposed—and partially demolished—de Havilland building. 

The campus exterior, image via MJMA Architects

Located north of Highway 401 and west of the Allen Road, the de Havilland factory at 65 Carl Hall Road is one of several former aeronautical buildings straddling the Downsview Airport. A hub of WWII airplane manufacture, the de Havilland factory—which was expanded to include four buildings during the war—produced a massive quantity of planes for the war effort, including over a thousand each of the Tiger Moth and Mosquito models. 

The exterior, image via MJMA Architects

Much of the former industrial hub—as well the airport proper—is now used as a testing facility by Bombardier Inc.. However, many of the surrounding buildings, including the imposing facility colloquially known only as 'the hangar', have been adapted into sports and recreational facilities, event venues, and markets. For its part, the now-vacant de Havilland factory served as the home of the Canadian Air and Space Museum. The museum vacated the space in 2011, with the collection temporarily moved to a storage facility near Pearson International Airport.

The new hangar, image via MJMA Architects

While the history of the site makes it a symbolically appropriate location for the new campus, the close proximity to Bombardier's facilities is also being touted as an important bridge to the professional world. Through closer partnership between Bombardier and Centennial College, the hope is that direct contact between students and the industry will leave graduates better prepared to enter the workforce. 

The interior, image via MJMA Architects

According to Centennial College, "[t]he new campus will house an innovation and research working group that brings together industry leaders and academic partners, including University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Ryerson University, York University, Bombardier and others. The campus will anchor the Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research (DAIR) Cluster, which will work to maintain Canada’s fifth-place ranking as an aerospace supplier to the world."


We will keep you updated as construction gets underway, and the project begins to take shape. In the meantime, you can learn more by checking out our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment in the space below, or join the conversation in our associated Forum thread.

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