Last fall, four different design teams submitted proposals for the revitalization of U of T’s front campus. These beautifully rendered images paint a portrait of everyday student life with accuracy reminiscent of Enlightenment-era art. Indeed, many subtle themes — like weather and depth of field — are captured so elegantly that they deserve a thorough, unforgiving critique, just as any artwork would.
A bright and cheerful reimagining of the front campus is the concept behind this picture. It is a place for escape and contemplation. The figures traffic leisurely, seemingly unaware that they have three assignments and two exams the following week. The sun — a symbol of life — shines brightly on the universities’ patrons. They do not face the viewer; rather, they move in a directionless fashion, blissfully ignorant to the crippling anxieties of student life.
KPMB Architects + Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates + Urban Strategies:
Here, the field is completely transformed by the artists, harmoniously combining the man-made with nature. The earth has been raised into a grove and fitted with an escalator. Clearly this is a metaphor for higher education and the unlimited possibilities it offers. The concept is depicted brilliantly, while also offering functionality, as the design centers on the best way to park more cars underground.
DTAH + Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates:
Taking the award for planning negligence a random and, yes, sloppily placed ice rink that appears to simultaneously block the flow of pedestrian traffic and completely isolate the J. Robert S. Prichard Alumni House? The fictitious skaters spin round the house, presumably deaf to the pleas of the trapped alumni, cold and hungry in their poorly designed captivity.
Janet Rosenberg & Studio + architectsAlliance + ERA Architects:
This image depicts the front campus as an inclusive, picturesque, and communal space where everyone can enjoy a traditional Canadian winter activity: ice-skating. Students will appreciate this perfect excuse to procrastinate on their studies. Later, in summer, the space may be used for a running track. Both options allow local residents to overcrowd campus space while everyone else circles ‘round and ‘round, as though they are on a never ending merry go round.