90 Queen’s Park will be built with an intent to serve as a new educational, urban, and cultural hub on the site of the McLaughlin Planetarium at the intersection of Bloor Street and Queens Park adjacent to Falconer Hall in the campus of Toronto University, Toronto. The building will bring together previously dispersed nine departments of the School of History, Music, Law, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, and the new School of Cities, a global hub for urban-focused education, research, and outreach into a single building.

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York (Design Consultant)
ERA Architects, Toronto (Heritage Building Consultant)
ArchitectsAlliance, Toronto (Executive Architect)
Location: University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Area: 170,000 sqft (15,794sqm)
Groundbreaking: 2020

The design team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in alliance with local Toronto ERA Architects and architects Alliance was selected in a competition in 2016. Surrounded by iconic historic buildings consistently performing its exclusive functions over the years the new building seems to exemplify inclusiveness through its form and function to integrate its surroundings and people from the University and the City of Toronto for enhancing and amalgamating different thoughts, ideas, and cultures. University of Toronto President Meric Gertler said ’90 Queen’s Park, an architectural landmark will provide the University of Toronto with an invaluable opportunity to create a meeting space for scholars and the people of the city around us.’ 

The concept behind the design

To harmonize with adjoining building Flavelle House, the architects at DS+R, says the building features a bold design overall, and on the one side of the facade it portrays a gradual wear out, ‘Eroded’ which reflects on the history Falconer Hall, which dates back to1900s. 

90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet2
East façade of the building with massing on the north and erodes volumes with transparent glass toward the south with vertical fins at each level ©www.dsrny.com
90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet10
Axonometric view of the site by ERA Architects submitted to City of Toronto ©urbantoronto.ca

Design

The 9-storey smooth cohesive block responds with its heritage surroundings with sculpted eroded slabs and facades revealing each constituent’s departments through its levels. The university opens up to the city’s skyline keeping in mind by not overpowering the surroundings and fulfilling the dual purpose of individual learning and public collaborative engagement. The massing was pushed as far west as possible keeping distance with the Falconer Hall existing in the site exposing the south façade to the views of its surroundings. 

90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet6
Image Sources: Site plan of 90’s Queen Park ©www.dsrny.com
90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet1
Site plan of 90’s Queen Park ©www.dsrny.com
90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet8
Third Floor plan of 90 Queen’s Park ©urbantoronto.ca

The design welcomes users from two entries; south plaza into the lobby and north plaza, a buried entry under a green terraced landscape coming out from the café. Sited on a limited area the design fits like a jigsaw puzzle around the Falconer Hall interacting with the user in all directions. 

The more public areas and student-oriented spaces like classrooms, recital halls, event spaces, etc. are kept faced with clear glazing with vertical fins for more openness and academic areas on the north are comparatively opaque and in closed volume with smaller openings. The heart of the building is a dynamic central atrium and stair linking clusters of lounge spaces, study spaces, and meeting rooms fostering access and views between the disciplines and encouraging student collaborations with transparent surroundings making the vibrant movement visible from the outside.  

90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet3
The staircase core of the central atrium leading from the public spaces below to the classroom and event areas above   ©www.dsrny.com
90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet7
Recessed slabs and central staircase opening up to the city and its surrounding views and keeping the indoors lit.  ©urbantoronto.ca

Construction

The designers/presenters desire to create one of the most urban buildings to date within the campus. The volumes on one side are stacked on each other to the other side imagined to erode and reveal with single, double, triple heightened spaces transparently opening to the skyline of Toronto. With very little revealed about the materials and textures, 90 Queen’s park will feature a warm color palette with a distinctive matte golden hue throughout the building with transparent glazing on the south with vertical aluminum fins on each floor. All exterior materials will be matte to avoid glare and excess of reflections. In line with the exterior, the interiors with wood will be preferred. Renders also show brick masonry textures in portions of the mid-way up the building designed for a 250-seat recital hall with a large window. 

90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet5
Eastside elevation showing context structure volumes ©urbantoronto.ca
90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet4
A 200-seat recital hall features a multi-storey window with views of Toronto city skyline. ©www.dsrny.com

Sustainability

The building is designed to adhere to the American Society of Heating, refrigerating, and air-conditioning engineers’ (ASHRAE) sustainability standards respecting the university’s commitment to sustainability. ‘It aims to roughly use 40% less energy than a conventional building of this typology’, says Gilbert Delgado, University of Toronto’s chief of University Planning, Design and Construction. With modernity comes sensitivity to ‘be a good neighbor’ to existing surrounding landmark buildings while creating a landmark in itself. The design being in continuous modifications after the competition, the panelist also suggested opening up more on the north side to optimize natural light within the building.   

90 Queen’s Park for University of Toronto by Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s- 9-Storey Golden Sculpted Slab - Sheet9
Rendered view showing west and south façade eroded with transparent openings with vertical fins   ©urbantoronto.ca

The proposed design will be constructed in the area where a former working planetrium known as the Mclaughlin Planetarium, was closed down in 1995. 

Ruchi Kumbhani
Author

RuchiKumbhani is currently a final year B. Arch student at PVP College of Architecture, Pune. She is a curious mind & travel enthusiast. With few days of intense binge indoors to days of cycling outdoor, she loves to observeinterrelationship of different settings/spaces and penning her thoughts over it.

Write A Comment