Architecture students express concerns over studio security, cleanliness, disrepair

Daniels Faculty move to 1 Spadina Crescent delayed

Students at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design have been upset over the lack of space in their current studio located at 665-667 Spadina Avenue. The space has been subject to break-ins and thefts as well as reports of homeless individuals entering the building. 

According to Richard Sommer, Dean of the Daniels Faculty, the space at 665-667 Spadina Avenue was intended to be used temporarily while 1 Spadina Crescent — the future home of the faculty — is under construction. 

“Unfortunately, that project, while a great thing, has taken longer than was planned. As we will be at 665-667 for one more session, we will continue to work closely with AVSSU [Architecture and Visual Studies Students’ Union] to address building issues and student concerns,” he told The Varsity

“As the completion of our new facilities at One Spadina have been delayed, we have provided more equipment and amenities for 665 Spadina to serve our students in the interim,” Sommer explained.

Marienka Bishop-Kovac, the Architecture & Visual Studies Representative on the UTSU, spoke with The Varsity to explain that security issues had arisen at 665-667 Spadina Avenue due to complications with students’ FOB keys, which give them 24-hour access to 665 Spadina and 230 College Street. 

Many students do not obtain their FOB keys or possess a faulty set, Bishop-Kovac explained. As a consequence of the lack of FOB  key ownership, the building door at 665 Spadina has been left unlocked and vulnerable to theft, she claimed. She also mentioned that the AVSSU will be working to post signage around the building with instructions and guidelines about the proper use of the FOB keys. 

Other issues surrounding the studio space include concerns about its cleanliness. Bishop-Kovac explained that the studio is often packed to capacity during final reviews and that “there are not enough top surfaces for everyone to do work.”

She further explained that the university is putting procedures in place to keep the studio clean and safe, noting that student concerns about blade disposal, heating, and ceiling disrepairs have been brought to the faculty’s attention by the AVSSU. Since then, a blade disposal unit has been added to 665 Spadina.

Furthermore, in December 2016, the Faculty stated that it would work with Facilities and Services to fix any heating issues and ceiling disrepairs by the Winter 2017 semester. 

“AVSSU collaborated with the Registrar’s Office to create a clean-up on January 3rd, 2017 and will be figuring out new methods to organize materials for reuse in the coming semester,” said Bishop-Kovac.

“If students have a concern with the facilities they should contact the Registrar and AVSSU immediately,” she advised.

The Varsity also spoke with Jasmine Wong Denike, President of the University of Toronto Students’ Union, who explained the need for students to have a safe working environment. “The UTSU wants to ensure that students are safe in their current student space – and that means having space that they can call their own,” she said. “With the Daniels Faculty of Architecture’s 1 Spadina Cres. project being delayed, undergraduate students need a guaranteed space that is both work space and common space.”

According to Bishop-Kovac, the building at 1 Spadina Crescent will cover roughly 150,000 square feet, whereas the combined total of the current architecture student spaces at 665 Spadina and 230 College Street covers approximately 73,000 square feet. 

The new building will also include a separate lounge area for students as well as study space and an office for the AVSSU, which the union does not currently have. 

Sommer said that the faculty and the AVSSU are working together to resolve the issues surrounding the space and that this semester will be the last “full session” at 665-667 Spadina Avenue.

“For example, our students and faculty have scheduled a cleaning in the New Year prior to the start of term and have been actively promoting a shift in the studio culture to encourage more responsible use of shared space,” he said. “This winter will be our last full session using 665-667, but we are committed to making the remaining time there work.”

Sommer also explained that the amount of space available to all students will double after the completion of 1 Spadina Crescent. Spaces available for undergraduate students will triple.

“I can tell you that our peers at other schools are already looking to us with envy,” he said. “Having our graduate and undergraduate students together for the first time in this building is going to be transformative for our school, UofT and this area of the city.”

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