Montgomery Sisam Architects has been retained to design a proposed a 4-storey, 1,942 m² renewal and expansion project of Innis College, a non-residential institutional building located on the northwest corner of St George Street and Sussex Avenue on the University of Toronto's St George Campus in Downtown Toronto. 

Rendering of the Innis College Sussex Avenue frontage, designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects

The proposal would renovate and expand the West Wing of the building fronting Sussex Avenue and bpNichol Lane across from Robarts Library, creating a larger space to which the College library would be relocated. The library will be expanded to serve more as a ‘student centric learning hub’, containing more study spaces, classrooms, and offices. The renovation also includes plans for an expanded Innis Café (currently located in the northern portion of the West Wing fronting the Innis Garden), additional green space, improved internal circulation, and the integration of more informal study and social spaces for students. 

U of T St George Campus Map, looking north, image by the University of Toronto

Plans for the renovation have been in the works since 2018 and have progressed as a result of a number of community consultations with students, staff and faculty, focused on ways the College could better serve its users, increase space and improve accessibility throughout. The College, which serves as the University’s centre for Urban Studies, Cinema Studies, and Writing & Rhetoric, is attended by nearly 2.000 students per academic year, despite the original, 1974 building being designed for 800. 

Aerial view of St George Campus, looking south (Innis College coloured) [Retrieved: University of Toronto]

The college building falls within the ‘St George Infill’ character area and borders the historical ‘Huron / Sussex’ character area as outlined in the current (2014) and proposed (2018) University of Toronto St George Campus Secondary Plan. Along Sussex Avenue where the renovation is proposed, the project represents one of several sensitive infill developments that will contribute to the combination of new buildings and heritage buildings that characterize St George Street, while complimenting the heritage character of the Huron / Sussex neighbourhood though appropriate transitions of height and massing.

University of Toronto Secondary Plan street transitions, by the University of Toronto

Likewise, the renovation will be one of several renovations designed to contribute to the active laneway vision for bpNichol Lane. The west, laneway-facing facade of the building will correspond to the laneway with an entrance and outward facing windows, reinforcing the laneway as a walkable thoroughfare for students and pedestrians. Vehicular usage will be maintained along the laneway, as well as the College’s servicing and waste storage areas that are currently located behind the Innis College gardens just north of the main College structure. 

Photo of bpNichol 'Living laneway', image retrieved from the University of Toronto

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 in the space provided on this page.

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