New buildings in the works at UTM

Plans not finalized for location, full purpose of proposed Robotics Building, Arts & Culture building

New buildings in the works at UTM

UTM plans to build up to three new academic buildings over the next four years, as a part of the implementation of its five-year Academic Plan that it introduced last year.

This year, the campus plans to finalize designs for both a Science Building and a Robotics Building, as well as initiate discussions to possibly construct an Arts & Culture Building. Though construction is slated to start soon, there are very few details about the location or full purpose of the Robotics Building and the Arts & Culture Building.

According to UTM’s Implementation Plan — an evolving document that details the steps that the administration is taking to achieve the Academic Plan — construction of the Science Building is scheduled to begin sometime in the next two years and finish around 2021.

The Science Building will be located between the Davis Building and the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex. It will consist of roughly 7,134 net assignable square metres spread over four floors, with a mechanical penthouse on the fifth floor.

There are also proposals to include a High Performance Computing Data Centre, as well as laboratories and offices, to satisfy the laboratory needs of research facilities at UTM and to accommodate the activities of UTM’s Centre for Medicinal Chemistry, which was launched in 2016 to develop drugs targeting cancer and other diseases.

The Forensic Science program, which is currently located in the Health Sciences Complex, as well as Campus Shipping & Receiving, which is currently located in the William G. Davis Building, are also slated for relocation to the Science Building.

With a budget exceeding $20 million, construction of the Science Building will be funded by a combination of sources, including UTM Capital Reserves and Long-term Borrowing, along with donations and funding. There will also be possible fund-matching from the Provost.

Robotics Building

Construction of the Robotics Building is slated to begin this academic year for an expected opening sometime between 2020 and 2021. However, it is yet to be determined where or why construction will occur.

“[The Robotics Building will be] much like a technical garage for working on autonomous vehicles,” explained Professor Ulrich Krull, Principal of UTM and Vice-President of the University of Toronto, over email.

“This is not intended to be a significant academic building and will be a work shop, likely located near the Paleomagnetism Lab on Principal’s Road,” though Krull added that this was not confirmed.

At the UTM Campus Council meeting on October 3, Krull announced that UTM had already hired three staff members for the Robotics Department.

“The initial robotics faculty members will join their Computer Science colleagues in Deerfield Hall,” wrote Krull.

Arts & Culture Building

The fate of the Arts & Culture Building remains unknown.

“For Robotics and Arts and Culture, there are no decisions about where the construction will happen, and no decisions about the purpose of the buildings,” wrote Krull.

“The Arts and Culture Building is a placeholder for a project that might take place after the science building is completed, and the science building will not be fully complete before 2022.”

Krull added that discussions are in progress, and that any issues must first be considered by a project planning committee before any plans can be finalized for construction to begin.

“UTM has not even assembled these committees as yet,” said Krull. “When there is a consensus it will be possible to move to the project planning stage to lay out firm plans.”

Ongoing construction continues to place stress on campus operations. So far, construction is in progress for an unnamed new building, to finish the new North Building, and to renovate the Davis Building.

A roundup of construction at UTSC

Modern Highland Hall to reopen in stages, feature new student study spaces

A roundup of construction at UTSC

The school year has arrived with some construction at UTSC still in progress. Currently, two projects with a focus on accessibility for students are underway.

UTSC Media Relations Officer Don Campbell provided some insight to the newest addition.

Highland Hall is designed in a way to really serve the needs of our students by enhancing the teaching and learning environment at UTSC. It will add student study spaces, modern classrooms, a new café, and plenty of places for students to just sit, relax and hang out,” he said in an email.

The building will face Military Trail and will be one of the first things people see when they arrive on campus.

“In many ways it will be an exciting new gateway to our campus,” Campbell said.

Highland Hall will include unique and modern architectural features that UTSC “can’t wait to unveil.”

Here’s the breakdown of what is to come at UTSC:

Highland Hall

Expected Completion: mid-November

This 134,216-square-foot, five-storey building underwent construction to add 175 new student study spaces, a student commons space, administrative offices for the social sciences department, one lecture hall with 230 seats, two classrooms with 25 seats each, one classroom with 34 seats, and graduate teaching labs on the second to fifth floors.

Both the interior and exterior of the hall’s athletic centre have undergone renovation to become a multipurpose space. It will now also hold events, conferences, and exams.

Highland Hall opened its doors on Monday, September 10 for only lectures and tutorials situated in the lower-level classrooms, lecture halls, and washrooms found at HL001, HL006, HL008, and HL010.

Unfortunately, the rest of the building remains under construction. The building will reopen in stages.

Carrel desks and lounge furniture will be ready in the Student Commons by late October. Hall’s café, which will offer sandwiches, pastries, and specialty coffee, is expected to open in late October as well.

Accessibility Path

Expected Completion: Unknown

A new accessible path will run through Scarborough’s Highland Creek Valley and connect the campus upstairs to the wilderness down below.

The trail is expected to be 500 metres long, with a slope of no more than a five per cent grade. This will allow better access for those who use mobility devices.

This path has been designed to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

A roundup of construction, renovations at UTM

Several buildings remain under construction at UTM as the campus welcomes its largest ever first-year cohort

A roundup of construction, renovations at UTM

A higher population brings higher demands: more study areas, a wider range of food outlets, and additional teaching spaces are needed. This, in turn, leads to new buildings and renovations.

1. The North Building

Expected Completion: late September

The original North Building was demolished in 2015. The new six-storey building will have rooftop gardens for those interested in nature, over 500 extra study spaces for students, and technologically-advanced classrooms for teachers and learners alike. There will also be numerous charging ports, 390 lockers, and a six-storey atrium space ideal for socializing, working, eating, or just relaxing. The building will also incorporate special glass designed to deter bird strikes.

Furthermore, a resourceful rainwater reuse system will supply water for irrigation and other uses aimed at decreasing waste and energy expenditure.

The building will also add large stalls and change tables to washrooms and add both single and all-gender washrooms.

The new North Building will house the Centre for South Asian Civilizations and various other departments, with some professors already beginning the transition, and is also set to be a specific space for digital humanities research.

2. Unnamed new building

Expected Completion: Spring 2019

The currently untitled building is expected to be a two-storey glass and steel structure.

It will become part of the student pedestrian walkway that extends across campus from the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre and past the CCT Building and Student Centre.

In addition to hosting the Campus Police Services and Hospitality & Retail Operations, the building will also provide an extension to the existing Academic Annex via a shared courtyard and garden.

3. Renovations to the William G. Davis Building

Expected Completion: Spring 2019

The renovation of the William G. Davis Building comprises updates to numerous areas and services.

It currently houses lecture theatres, laboratories, classrooms, and offices, along with the Temporary Food Court (TFC), the UTM bookstore, and it is linked to the Recreation, Athletics, and Wellness Centre.

The renovations will create a refurbished main entrance and new accessible washrooms adjacent to the TFC.

The changes are designed to accommodate the increased student population. According to Paul Donoghue, then-UTM Chief Administrative Officer, a “new living room for the campus” will be formed of a permanent food court and a meeting hub that will provide seating for up to 1,000 people. The social area will be built in the location of the demolished Meeting Place.


UTM expects to welcome its largest group of first-year students

Student surge comes as much of the campus remains under construction

UTM expects to welcome its largest group of first-year students

UTM expects to welcome its largest incoming undergraduate class ever this fall, though much of the campus is under construction.

Professor Ulrich Krull, Vice-President and Principal of UTM, told The Varsity in an email that “it is expected that the incoming class may be about 10% larger than that [of] last year,” though he added that he is sure that the growth of the campus would properly accommodate the large wave of incoming students.

Krull called the increase in acceptances of offers “unexpected,” but he added that “this outcome reflects the competitive positioning that UTM has achieved.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, UTM has grown considerably over the years. From a single academic building that held 155 students, 28 faculty, and 40 staff members in its inaugural year, today UTM is host to 14,000 undergraduate students, 682 graduate students, and over 54,000 alumni.

These numbers are only increasing, so what exactly is UTM going to do in order to properly accommodate its growing student population?

“As done every year, arrangements are being made with academic departments and institutes, and with the various student service operations to accommodate the incoming class and ensure that all UTM students have an outstanding experience,” wrote Krull.

Buildings still under renovation at UTM include the Davis Building, the Health Sciences Complex, Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre, Kaneff Centre, North Building, Principal’s Residence Lislehurst, and Erindale Hall.

According to UTM’s Facilities Management and Planning, its project schedules indicated that most of these buildings needed at least three more weeks of construction in August. However, this does not guarantee that the buildings would be fully completed.

Since the start of construction, there have been concerns about student access to study spaces, classrooms, and eating areas, as the rate of student growth has not changed.

“The campus has experienced total undergraduate enrolment growth at a rate of about 10% each year for the past 10 years and we welcome and look forward to the arrival of the incoming class,” wrote Krull.

Student Commons opening delayed to January 2019

Opening originally scheduled for September, postponed due to construction delays

Student Commons opening delayed to January 2019

The opening of the Student Commons — a proposed student centre that has been in the works for over a decade — has been delayed from September 2018 to January 2019. According to the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU), which is in charge of running the centre, the postponement is due to unexpected construction delays.

Though they will not have an exact opening date until the construction nears completion, UTSU Vice-President Operations Tyler Biswurm told The Varsity, “We are as confident as we could possibly be in our projected open date.”

Biswurm explained that since the Student Commons building at 230 College Street is over 100 years old, it presents its own unique renovation difficulties.

“Due to contemporary limitations in construction techniques, the poor quality of building materials used, and the loss of architectural documentation to time, multiple unforeseen obstacles have presented themselves in the implementation of plans for the Student Commons,” said Biswurm.

Both the proposed Operating Levy fee of $6.50 and the increased semesterly levy of $14.25 will be pushed back to the second semester in accordance with the building’s delayed opening.

The approaching opening of the Student Commons marks the end of a journey that began in 2007, when students voted to implement a levy to fund the Student Commons. The project has since faced tremendous financial difficulties, with a 2016 budget plan forecasting a $300,000 deficit in the first year. A 2017 estimate lowered this amount to around $27,000.

Prior to this most recent delay, the building’s opening had already been pushed back from September 2017 to September 2018. During this time, changes had to be made to the plan to decrease the likelihood of bankruptcy, as the building’s agreement outlining the UTSU’s terms of use states that U of T will have the right to seize control in the case of two consecutive years of deficits following the first three years of operation.

Biswurm confirmed that the building is still on track to report a surplus in its third fiscal year, which will keep the building in the hands of the UTSU.

Among the groups that had planned to move into the Student Commons in September is the UTSU, which will remain in its current office at 12 Hart House Circle during the first semester. On behalf of any other groups that had planned to move into the building as of September, “the UTSU did negotiate extended occupancy permissions for all service groups and levy groups that had been promised space.”

Biswurm emphasized that all student groups are a priority for the UTSU as the Student Commons takes shape, adding that “whether it be for hosting their events programming, for hosting their regular office hours, for use as [a] convenient meeting space, or for use as a staging ground for events, the Student Commons is built to facilitate the vital role clubs play on the U of T campus.”

Long-awaited Myhal Centre for Engineering to open at UTSG

Building open to general public, though some spaces to be engineering-exclusive

Long-awaited Myhal Centre for Engineering to open at UTSG

Ten years in the making, the Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship will be ready for use this year. Development began as early as 2008, with construction starting three years ago.

Full occupancy of the building is expected by June. The site was previously used as a parking lot, and was chosen for development due to its proximity to the Engineering Annex building on St. George Street.

As with all other U of T buildings, the Myhal Centre will be open to the general public. Certain spaces, however, will be restricted to engineering students only

The university hopes the centre will serve as a positive meeting place for innovation. Catherine Riddell, the Executive Director Communications for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, told The Varsity that the university hopes the Myhal Centre “will spark collaboration across disciplines and foster creativity among our students, faculty, staff, alumni and industry partners.”

“As a world-class engineering school, our priority is to provide spaces that enable active, experiential learning and collaborative multidisciplinary research,” Riddell said.

Unfortunately, the building’s history is marred by tragedy. On September 8, 2017, an accident at the site resulted in the death of 52-year-old construction worker Tim DesGrosseilliers. One other worker suffered injuries.

U of T to build 14-storey wood tower above Goldring Centre

Tower expected to be tallest building of its kind in North America

U of T to build 14-storey wood tower above Goldring Centre

The University of Toronto has announced plans to build a 14-storey timber tower above the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport. Construction is set to begin in early 2019 and end in early 2022. Once completed, the tower is expected to be the tallest mass timber and concrete hybrid building in North America.

The project is expected to provide a number of academic facilities for the Rotman Executive Programs, the Munk School of Global Affairs, the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Master in Mathematical Finance program, and the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.

While the university originally planned to build the tower with steel, it changed course after recognizing the benefits of timber, including a low carbon footprint, fire safety, and faster construction time.

In a press release from the university, Gilbert Delgado, U of T’s Chief of University Planning, Design and Construction, said that such thick columns in the building will improve fire safety as they are very difficult to ignite.

“If you try to ignite a log with a match, you’ll find out how difficult it is to ignite,” he said.

Delgado told The Varsity that there will be no impact to student traffic in the area and in the Goldring Centre as the tower will be built on one side. The student centre will remain open during construction.

Funding for the building will come from the university, philanthropy, and subsidies from the provincial and federal governments.  Budgeting details and overall costs for the project have yet to be disclosed, as the tower is in its design phase.

The university is partnering with Patkau Architects, an architecture and design research studio based in Vancouver; MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects, a prominent Toronto design firm; and Blackwell Structural Engineers, a Toronto-based engineering consulting company. The team previously worked on the construction of the Goldring Centre in 2014.

North end of Queen’s Park to close for revitalization project

Popular shortcut from Vic, St. Mike’s to remain fenced off until October

North end of Queen’s Park to close for revitalization project

The north end of Queen’s Park will be closed from March to October as part of a revitalization project tackling the aging infrastructure and damaged green space in the park.

The Queen’s Park North Improvements plan comes after years of increased usage of the historic downtown park by the booming population of nearby residents and tourists alike. The current infrastructure of the park lacks reliable paths and consistent benches.

Queen’s Park North makes up the section of the park north of Wellesley Street. The north end of this section — from the central King Edward VII Plaza to the top of the circle — will be closed for the first phase of the revitalization until October. The south side of Queen’s Park North will be closed off from March 2019 to August 2019. The construction notice states that “a pedestrian access path will be provided,” but it is unclear whether that path will lead through or around the closed-off area.

The project began in 2014 with extensive community and stakeholder consultations. The city’s plan for upgrading the park’s usability is to create better infrastructure for moving through the space, adding seating, and improving access points to the park, particularly at the Hoskin Avenue entrance, which is also a vital connection to campus.

A permanent walkway encircling the park will be built, replacing the well-trodden dirt path currently there and making the park more accessible for jogging. Some of the existing dilapidated paths will be demolished in favour of a more structured system of main walkways in and through the park.

One major addition coming with the project is a new Queen’s Park Promenade, connecting the Highlanders Monument of Canada Plaza at the northernmost end of the park with the King Edward VII Plaza in the centre with a wide walkway lined with benches.

Another objective of the project is the revitalization of its trees and lawns. The large trees of the park are a unique quality in the middle of the city, and the city will be planting more trees to ensure that the “urban canopy” is protected. Ninety large canopy and 70 understorey deciduous trees will be added to the park, alongside new grass turf and spring flowering bulbs along some walkways.

“When walking through the park, I often notice how empty the physical space is. With few benches, statues, and trees, the park itself is not visually appealing,” said U of T student Karel Peters. “I think that green space, especially in large cities, is very important. It’s nice to know that parks are still valued. Hopefully the improvements will create a more inviting atmosphere.”