With just weeks to go until its first crop of students arrive, media were given a sneak peek inside the University of Toronto's new Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship this morning. The Montgomery Sisam Architects and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios-designed facility rises 8 storeys plus a mechanical penthouse above St. George Street and the University quad, and will soon offer students and faculty new prototyping facilities, multidisciplinary research hubs, design studios, technology-enhanced learning spaces, and other features.
Entering through the northwest entrance from St. George, a blend of exposed concrete surfaces and warm wood finishes dominate, an aesthetic present throughout the building. The wood here sheaths the outer walls of the Lee & Margaret Lau Auditorium, stretching across the building's first two above-ground levels.
The 468-seat auditorium features a digital display measuring 18 metres long by 3.5 metres high, with two smaller screens positioned below for students in the front rows. Owing to the heat generated by the large screens, heat absorption was considered during the design phase. Between the screens, lectures will be delivered with the help of a digital system controlled through the central podium. Professors will be able to turn over the floor to students, who can share their screens with the class on a central display with the click of a mouse.
The seating arrangements here aren't what you'd find in a standard auditorium, with work stations designed to foster collaboration between students.
Below the auditorium, on level "0", the "SKULE Arena" is a hub for the advanced extracurricular activities typical of engineering schools. The arena offers collaborative work areas for the over 100 clubs and teams at U of T Engineering, and some of the best and brightest of these were on hand to display their high-tech creations at today's media preview.
Despite its below-grade location, the combination of glazing and a sloping ceiling underneath the auditorium allow ample natural light to filter in.
Up on the third and fourth floors, the building includes five technology-enhanced active learning (TEAL) classrooms. These spaces are designed for group work, implementing what is described as an "inverted class approach to experiential learning." Eight design studios will also be located on these levels. The fifth floor contains one of the standout spaces at the Myhal Centre, a central atrium terminating in a group of six skylights.
The atrium's staircase offers some interesting mid-level views across, including this one captured from the sixth floor.
The fifth floor is also home to the two-storey Norris Walker 5T7 Robotics Lab, housing the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics. This bright space will make use of its added height with the prototyping and testing of new flying robots. Upon entering the space, the media tour group was greeted by a talking robot, and treated to various demonstrations of new robotics and nanotechnology being developed at U of T.
Level 6 houses The Entrepreneurship Hatchery, an idea accelerator responsible for helping launch almost 70 companies since it launched in 2012. The Hatchery acts as an incubator for the early stages of development for entrepreneurs, giving them access to fabrication facilities to advance their ideas.
Level 7 features a collaborative research space and several project rooms that advance student teams from two organizations. The Centre for Global Engineering (CGEN) will be headquartered on the seventh floor, sharing space with the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead).
Level 8 will house new homes for both the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) and the Institute for Water Innovation (IWI), as well as the Dr. Woo Hon Fai Terrace. The terrace will likely be a very popular space with students and faculty, offering east-facing views of the front campus and the growing Toronto skyline.
You can learn more about the project by visiting our database file, 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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