Planning documents submitted to the City at the end of 2018 reveal that the University of Toronto is moving forward with plans for their new PIE Complex at the St. George Campus. Not responding to a craving for baked goods, the Partnerships in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (PIE) Complex Phase 1 would build a new home for the University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE), the Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO), and the Vector Institute of Artificial Intelligence (VIAI), while providing additional teaching, student, and collaborative office spaces. First announced in summer 2018, a rezoning submission to City Planning has revealed more details about the building.
Located at 112 College Street directly adjacent to the northeast entrance of Queen's Park subway station, the new tower would rise 13 storeys with two additional mechanical penthouse levels for a total height of 65 metres. Designed by New York-based Weiss/Manfredi Architects alongside local firm Teeple Architects, the building would add 17,588 square metres of new institutional space within a tapered trapezoidal form. The PIE Complex will replace the 1953-built Best Building, which is the western portion of the university's Banting and Best Complex.
The massing and expression of the building create a unique aesthetic that will set it apart from its surroundings among a grouping of already prominent landmark buildings. Shaped as a truncated trapezoidal pyramid, linear recesses in the facade carve the massing into distinct volumes and also provide shared rooftop terraces for occupants to enjoy. The bottom two floors of the building are also recessed, lifting the mass of the building off of the ground level.
The upper portion of the tower will be clad with a glazed curtain wall capped with custom-profiled aluminum cladding, creating its distinct grid of punched-out windows. The sculpted profile of the aluminum also creates a play of light and texture on the facade. The final colour of the aluminum is not yet specified, but early renderings indicate it will be white or light grey. The ground level as well as the recessed portions of the upper tower will be clad with minimal glazing to differentiate them from the remainder of the massing.
The ground and second levels will contain classrooms and multi-purpose lecture halls, as well as space for a cafe within the ground floor lobby. It appears in the plans that the university is opting for more flexible teaching spaces, with the largest space located on the second level.
The upper floors are a mix of closed and open-concept office spaces, labs, seminar rooms, and common areas. The two outdoor terraces highlight two unique spaces within the tower: a common lounge area on the seventh floor facing south, and a winter garden on the ninth floor facing north.
It should be noted that this tower is Phase 1 of the PIE Complex. According to the University of Toronto's updated Secondary Plan, which is still in development, zoning would potentially allow construction of a second tower as high as 105 metres to the immediate east, located on the current site of the Banting Building. The existing Zion Church at 88 College just to the east would be preserved. It is unlikely the university would pursue Phase 2 until work on Phase 1 is much more advanced.
We will keep you posted as the PIE Complex works its way through the planning process, but in the meantime you will find further details in the database file for the project, linked below. You can get in on the conversation by checking out the associated Forum thread or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.
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