The University of Toronto's St George Campus has undergone remarkable transformation in recent years, but nothing quite compares to the excitement surrounding the construction of the new Academic Wood Tower. Located at 100 Devonshire Place just south of Bloor Street, this 14-storey marvel is set to become the tallest academic timber structure in Canada and one of the tallest mass timber and steel hybrid buildings in North America.

The building under construction as of May 25, 2024, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor trxpodi

Designed by renowned Canadian firms Patkau Architects and MJMA Architecture & Design, in collaboration with Blackwell Structural Engineers and Smith+Andersen, the Academic Wood Tower is anticipated to be completed in 2026. The same team worked on U of T’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, which included the tower’s foundation and basement as part of its construction. Once completed, the tower is expected to stand 74.5 metres tall and extend over 127,000 ft².

This project, managed by Pomerleau, represents an ambitious vision for the future of sustainable architecture. It aims to set a global benchmark for tall mass timber construction, with the U of T leading the way in environmental responsibility and cutting-edge design.

Looking northwest to the Academic Wood Tower, designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA

Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto, as quoted in a Division of University Advancement online post at the beginning of construction, stated, "This inspiring piece of architecture will provide our students, faculty, and staff with state-of-the-art spaces for research, learning, and community engagement. It will stand as a testament to U of T’s global leadership in sustainability, as well as our commitment to city-building." This project aligns perfectly with the university’s recognition as the world’s most sustainable university by QS World Rankings.

Mass timber construction offers several environmental benefits. Wood naturally absorbs carbon dioxide, reducing greenhouse gases and promoting a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional building materials. The timber used for the tower is sourced from Western Canada, showcasing Canada's rich forest resources and leadership in wood construction technologies.

Top floor event space, Academic Wood Tower, designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA

The tower will serve as a high-quality space for three of the university's prominent faculties and schools: the Rotman School of Management, the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Each floor is thoughtfully designed to support the specific needs of these faculties, fostering an environment conducive to cutting-edge research, dynamic learning, and community engagement.

Susan Christoffersen, dean of the Rotman School of Management, as quoted in the same online post emphasized the importance of the tower for the school's executive education programs. "The Academic Wood Tower will provide ample space to inspire our program’s participants as they work to explore and transform themselves, their organisations, and their communities," she said.

Two views of the Academic Wood Tower from the west, designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA

The Academic Wood Tower features a unique hybrid structural design. Ryan Going, project manager at Pomerleau, told Daily Commercial News that "It’s a structural steel elevator and stair core that’s essentially hung from a mass timber exoskeleton and structure." Even before its completion, the Academic Wood Tower has garnered significant attention for its potential to serve as a case study in sustainable design. The building's construction process, using pre-manufactured components, ensures efficient assembly on-site, minimising disruption in the busy Bloor Street cultural corridor.

The project has received substantial support from the Government of Canada’s Green Construction through Wood (GCWood) program, reflecting a national commitment to innovative, low-carbon building technologies. "The Government of Canada’s Green Construction through Wood program is supporting more sustainable Canadian materials for the construction industry," noted the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

Looking northwest to the Academic Wood Tower, designed by Patkau Architects and MJMA

By combining mass timber with innovative engineering and design, the University of Toronto is not only creating a state-of-the-art facility for its community but also setting a global example of how to build responsibly and sustainably. This ambitious project exemplifies how academic institutions can lead the way in addressing global environmental challenges while providing world-class spaces for learning and research.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

* * *

UrbanToronto has a research service, UrbanToronto Pro, that provides comprehensive data on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area—from proposal through to completion. We also offer Instant Reports, downloadable snapshots based on location, and a daily subscription newsletter, New Development Insider, that tracks projects from initial application.​​​​​

Related Companies:  ANTAMEX, Arcadis, Blackwell, Bousfields