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Innis College to be expanded, renovated over next three years

Proposal to add more student-focused spaces, promoting accessibility, well-being
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Part of the proposed design. COURTESY OF MONTGOMERY SISAM ARCHITECTS INC
Part of the proposed design. COURTESY OF MONTGOMERY SISAM ARCHITECTS INC

Innis College will be renovating and expanding upon its main building in the next three years, adding extra space for students and community members. 

Planning on the project started in 2018 and has progressed through a series of consultations with students, faculty, and staff. The Innis College building, initially designed for 800 students, is now serving over 2,000 as the college has grown. According to Innis student Didier Ha, lead student ambassador for the expansion, the lack of adequate space is limiting students’ access to services, groups, and collaboration opportunities.

“Our college newspaper, The Herald; Innis College Student Society, and the commuter lounge are in obscure [parts] of the college… these spaces are quite small and unfit for the work and purposes thereof,” wrote Ha in an email to The Varsity.

The project, designed by Montgomery Sisam Architects, consists of a three-storey addition to the west wing of the current Innis College building. The new structure will house offices, an expanded Innis Café, and more student-focused spaces — including classrooms, the student learning hub, and meeting and gathering spaces. Innis College is attempting to raise $10 million to fund the project.

The new learning centre included in the expansion will provide students with a variety of accessible spaces for both individual work and collaboration. Featuring expansive windows and green spaces, the project will promote the indoor and outdoor connection and, according to Ha, could create a more dynamic space for students.

“By having more social spaces that take advantage of the greenery around the college, the hope is that students feel like the college is a place to study and socialize comfortably,” wrote Ha. 

Ha also expressed his hope that this project will contribute to improving community-building. “Innis has a great sense [of] community and lovable culture,” he wrote. “By expanding the physical space, the project inevitably expands that community and culture.”

The construction is expected to be completed by 2023. A U of T spokesperson wrote that the university will minimize the impact as much as possible by communicating closely with students to plan for any disruptions. There are preliminary talks to temporarily move affected student groups and activities to alternative spaces.

“Students will have greater accessibility to services and study spaces: working together, studying together, and [creating] more together.”