New Building Integrates Site

A historic quadrangle around a new student center on the Lakeshore campus of Humber College was restored to green grass for people instead of asphalt for vehicles.

The architectur- al firm of HOK had a number of challenges when designing a new student center for a central location on the Lakeshore campus of Humber College. The historic quadrangle is formed by Queen Anne cot- tages on three sides and a bluff overlooking a park and Lake
Ontario on the fourth. “One of the most important moves that we made and that was
supported and encouraged by Humber was to relegate the cars to be vis HOK Building L www.hok.com Location: Toronto Scope of work: Design of four- storey campus building
Evan Webber, assistant design director for HOK in Canada: “The way students learn today is different than you or I learned.”
ing entry and making it transparent as well as terracing of the building mass. This resulted in the design of a four-storey building whose levels shrink in size as they ascend to preserve
the view for the cot- tages behind it.
HOK also went to the building’s other major constituency the students to discover their needs for the building through consultation and student involvement in user groups. The result which is scheduled for com pletion in spring 2011 you linger in the corridors you insinuate yourself into unique spaces in general.”
The building’s materials acknowledge the Queen Anne cottages the simplicity of the terra cotta brick echoes that of the cottages, and the zinc color of the roof mimics the color of the cottages’ roof slate.
“I think that HOK has done an amazing job in integrating what I think is a very sensitive site,” emphasizes Peter McAlister, Humber College project director. “I’ve done about 25 projects across North America, and I’ve never been involved in a project where I had more butterflies in my stomach about the first design presentation on the building. I had no idea how they were itors to the site, rather than being the prime reason why that quadrangle existed,” explains Evan Webber, assistant design director for HOK in Canada.
The city of Toronto also expected the new building to preserve the historical impor- tance of the site on which the Mimico Asylum Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital was built in
1888, and the view from the bluff on which it would be located. Massing and proportions of
a new building were written into a plan for rezoning the site, Webber notes.

Views to the historic cottages beyond were preserved by low- ering the elevation of the build is the “L” building, so desig- nated until named after a donor. Its design follows the new learn- ing patterns of students that HOK discovered.
“What’s really important for the building in general is that the way students learn today is
different than you or I learned – they use the building in a differ- ent way than we might have,” Webber maintains. “They understand that anywhere and everywhere can be a place for learning, and that all the spaces that are traditionally seen as circulation space also become entirely habitable and spaces of pause and serendipitous inter action. You bump into people, going to introduce a building into that site and still respect the historical nature of it.”

Webber expects the building to maintain its usefulness. “The student commons can be configured and reconfigured in multi- ple ways but still maintains its integrity as a useful and enriching space,” he says.

“It’s part of the way we design in general it should be clean and clear and modern, and that’s almost the mantra of the studio at large,” Webber concludes. “We’re designing for our current time and place with the full knowledge of the past and an optimistic view of the
future.”

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