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Daniels students commute to classes off campus as One Spadina construction continues

Current classes hosted at Scotiabank Theatre

Daniels students commute to classes off campus as One Spadina construction continues

Although the new home for the John H. Daniels Faculty of Landscape, Architecture and Design at One Spadina Crescent was slated to officially open this September, many second-year students in the faculty find themselves commuting to places far away from the location.

The students of Daniels courses ARC251, ARC252, ARC281 have been commuting to classes at the Scotiabank Theatre at John Street and Richmond Street, approximately a 23-minute walk from UTSG. While the theatre was occupied by TIFF during the first week of classes, the students were split between lecture locations at Chestnut Residence and a Cineplex theatre located at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue. These locations are a walking distance from UTSG of 20 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes, respectively.

Andrea McGee, Registrar and Assistant Dean at the Office of Student Services for the Daniels Faculty, told The Varsity that the faculty has been booking off-campus spaces to accommodate increased numbers of students in the Daniels undergraduate program. The current number of 1,000 students enrolled in the program is a significant increase from the program’s launch in 2012.

Although the Principal Hall at One Spadina has been designed to hold the growing student body, the hall is one of a few spaces at One Spadina that is still undergoing construction.

Despite the challenges posed by the alternate locations, McGee hopes that the temporary locations of these second-year courses allow Daniels students “to see different parts of the city and to incorporate that [perspective] into some of their classes.” She added that the students have been said to be “having a lot of fun with it,” and “they’re even talking about getting concession stands popcorn during class.”

For second-year student Jennille Neal, these new class locations are not as much of an adventure as they are an accessibility concern. Students have the option of walking the distance to the Scotiabank Theatre, taking the subway, or even taking a cab. “I have seen so many students being dropped off in cabs,” Neal said. “Who’s paying for our extra expenses for transit? We are. It’s coming out of our pockets.”

All three courses being held in the Scotiabank Theatre are required for Neal’s undergraduate program. “There is only one section and one spot,” Jennille explained, “so it’s not like I’m able to move them to next semester so that they’re in a different location.”

The Architectural and Visual Studies Students’ Union (AVSSU) presented a brief concerning the situation to the Office of the Vice-President & Provost on September 21. The document highlights that “the physical location of these classes pose a barrier [for Daniels students], especially those who cannot afford to take a two-way transit trip every week for twelve weeks.”

The brief expresses concern for students with accessibility needs who might be impacted by the long commute, as well as a worry for the months of bad weather when “students will likely have longer commuting times and… will have to face the elements with their graded oversized architectural models.”

Scott Markle, the Vice-President of Student Life at AVSSU, told The Varsity, “While I agree the ability to explore the city is a valued part of our architecture degree, there should be a precedent for a smoother transition between classes and spaces on campus.”

McGee believes that this situation will be repaid through opportunities offered by the new Daniels facility. In addition to studio space, the location will include an amphitheatre, digital fabrication laboratory, commons space, and a testing laboratory for green roof innovations. One Spadina covers over 100,000 square feet — twice the space available to the students and faculty at their former 230 College Street location.

McGee projects that students will be able to attend classes in Principal Hall starting in the winter semester. The AVSSU invites students to contact if they would like to express questions or concerns regarding any aspect of the transition to the One Spadina facility.

A roundup of construction on campus

Understanding what is being built where and for when

A roundup of construction on campus

Construction is underway all across the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. Many of the universities old buildings are being renovated, while new buildings are going up. Here is a summary of all the major construction projects taking place on campus.

1. Robarts Library

130 St. George Street

Expected Completion: Spring 2019

According to U of T Magazine, Robarts Library sees as many as 18,000 visitors per day. Despite its massive size, U of T’s marquee library does not house enough study carrells to keep up with the demand.

The Robarts Common will be a five-storey glass structure connected to the main library, adding about 1,200 additional study spaces, bringing the total number of spaces to roughly 6,000.

This is the second phase of the Robarts revitalization project; the first phase took place between 2008 and 2012. During that time, study spaces were improved and infrastructure was added to support mobile computing and connectivity. The second phase seeks to be both practical in its implications for students and also sustainable. The addition is set to be awarded a silver rating according to the standards set by the Leadership in Energy

and Environmental Design.

2. Ramsay Wright Laboratories

25 Harbord Street

Expected Completion: Unknown

Ramsay Wright Laboratories has been undergoing a series of renovations. The date for when that can be expected is unknown, but in 2014, The Varsity reported that renovations would be completed by April 2017, although they are still underway.

A 2014 report on the renovations explained that the renovations are largely based on creating functioning laboratories that have longevity. Various science-based programs are being forced to move equipment between the labs in the Earth Sciences Centre and Ramsay Wright, and the renovations seek to remedy these issues.

3. Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship

55 St. George Street

Expected Completion: 2018

Through transparency and collaboration, the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering has involved the campus in the construction of its new home. The process of creating the Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship began in 2008. Select building elements that used to stand at the site were demolished in 2015, and the official groundbreaking took place on June 24, 2015. Construction of the CEIE is slated to be completed in 2018.

Some of the CEIE’s highlighted features include space devoted to student clubs, multidisciplinary research hubs, a dedicated alumni meeting space, eight design studios, and new prototyping and fabrication facilities. It boasts a brand new auditorium, the Lee & Margaret Lau Auditorium, which is set to be “a 500-seat interactive space meant to optimize audience engagement.” Each of the spaces has a unique and innovative design.

4. One Spadina

1 Spadina Crescent

Expected Completion: Fall 2017

The new Daniels Building has been featured in The New York Times and was one of the main attractions of this year’s Doors Open event. The project has been under close watch due not only to the location but also due to the promise surrounding it. The Daniels Faculty’s website says that the building, when completed, will be “a world-leading venue for studying, conducting research, and advocating for architecture, landscape, and sustainable urbanization.”

During Daniels Orientation and with the start of classes, the building has already begun hosting students.