Transforming downtown University of Toronto campus

December 9, 2015

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From the U of T site:

In May of 2015 the University of Toronto initiated an Innovative Design and Ideas Competition for the revitalization of the major public spaces of the historic St. George campus. Four teams representing a range of architectural and landscape philosophies were shortlisted in June to compete, through an open RFQ (Request for Qualifications) process.

Design team selection was based on:

  • Design Experience: executing projects of a comparable nature, scale and complexity using innovative yet contextually sensitive solutions;
  • Public Engagement: demonstrated ability to engage in broad public consultation with, and outreach to, a diverse range of stakeholders from within the University of Toronto, as well as neighbouring resident groups and the city at large.

The competition itself ran for eight weeks from July to September. During that time, each of the teams prepared original designs to address the many challenges of the project area. Their work was presented to the public on September 28th and exhibited at three venues on the St. George Campus in the weeks that followed. Online versions of their proposals can be viewed here.

On December 8th, the University announced that KPMB Architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) and Urban Strategies have been selected as the successful team to continue work on the project. While the design ideas developed during the competition were important to the process of selecting a winner, it is important to recognize that the selection of the winning team is not an acceptance of the ideas brought forward at this initial competition stage. In other words, the winning team was not selected for the ideas presented in and of themselves, but rather for their understanding of the scope of the project, including the requirement for significant and iterative input from a wide range of stakeholders – students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the local communities. The winning team is now tasked with beginning a process that is deeply consultative and will include broad public engagement, to develop the ultimate vision for the heart of the campus.

The successful team will enter into a process with the University to critically review the ideas emerging from the competition and develop a Master Plan for the project area.  This process will involve broad consultation with University stakeholders and the University’s Design Review Committee. A major fundraising effort is expected to follow the development of the ‘Master Plan’ and the implementation of the project will likely proceed in phases over a number of years.

Read more about the winning submission here.