An early 2019 application submitted to the City sought rezoning for a new student residence for the University of Toronto’s Trinity College located at 6 Hoskin Avenue, directly south of the Varsity Centre. Initially submitted with a placeholder massing design by Alan Ng Architect and The Finlayson Practice (the placeholder image is shown below), a news release issued in July revealed that Netherlands-based architects Mecanoo Architecten had been selected to design the new building, working with local Architect of Record RDH Architects.

Massing model from zoning submission prior to Mecanoo/RDHA being selected, image via submission to City of Toronto

Mecanoo and RDH's selection came from a two-stage process using a qualifications-based search rather than a design competition. As a result, the College’s Architect Selection Advisory Committee unanimously chose the two from a pool of international firms to design the first significant new building on the Trinity College campus in nearly 60 years.

“We are thrilled to be working with Mecanoo and RDHA on the design and development of our new building. They have a deep understanding of what we aspire to and our core values of excellence, community and sustainability,” Professor Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College stated in July. “We want our campus be an inspiring and welcoming place to learn, live and work. This is an exciting opportunity to complement our beautiful, historic campus.”

In the months since the design team was selected, the design has evolved away from the stepped 14-storey building that was presented in the rezoning application. Now planned as a low-rise building on a T-shaped footprint, the site stretches from the west edge of the parking lot at 15 Devonshire Place, extending along the north edge of the backfield. With an expanded footprint and low-rise massing, Trinity College is already exploring opportunities to maximize the project's sustainability by potentially incorporating solar panels and urban farming on the extensive roof space.

New T-shaped low-rise plan, image via University of Toronto

While the project's design is still advancing and therefore there are no images of it to consider yet, we have taken a look into Mecanoo's existing portfolio of institutional housing buildings, one the Erasmus University Student Housing in Rotterdam, the other the Key Worker Housing at the University of Cambridge to get a feel for what may be to come.

Erasmus University Student Housing in Rotterdam, image via

Key Worker Housing at the University of Cambridge, image via

The Trinity College project design is being led by Mecanoo's Francine Houben, described by Provost Moran as “a world-renowned architect known for her site-specific work, her deep understanding of design and her attentiveness to how people inhabit space. As an advocate for the way architecture can support community and the needs of users, her approach aligns with the College’s ethos.”  

Additional information and images can be found in our Database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread or leave a comment below.

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Related Companies:  The Planning Partnership