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University of Toronto's new 23-storey residence is to open in 2021.

While campus life is back in full swing at universities across the country, the University of Toronto is busy making plans to improve the accommodation shortfall for its students.

A 2017 report estimated that the university would need another 2,300 beds by 2020, so its proposed 511-bed residence building at 698 Spadina Ave. couldn’t come at a better time. The 23-storey building, to be built in partnership with Daniels Corp. and designed by Toronto’s Diamond Schmitt Architects, is scheduled to open in 2021.

“Housing is a problem all over North America in terms of universities,” says Gilbert Delgado, the University of Toronto’s chief of planning, design and construction.

“In cities like Toronto, where the cost of living is very expensive and the type of offerings that might be best suited for a first-year student may not be readily available, that's where university-sponsored housing is an effective tool to meet that demand.”

The residence, which will incorporate an existing three-storey heritage building into the facade, would be the first such building on the school’s campus in more than 10 years. First planned in 2013, the building was finally approved last month by the city and local groups following the appointment of a mediator. The concessions from the university included a smaller footprint and fewer storeys, as well as opening up 17,000 square feet of adjacent green space to the public.

While there has been a rise in the number of unaffiliated residence buildings opening up in Toronto, such as the Parkside Student Residence near Ryerson University, Mr. Delgado says the University of Toronto strives to offer affiliated residence options, particularly for first-year students who may not be familiar with the city. The advantages are that students are guaranteed to be close to the university, there are programs on offer to help new students acclimatize, and neighbours in the building will all be fellow students.

“We acknowledge that there are many other options that students use but I think that there will always be a very strong demand for housing that is convenient and is in some ways associated with the university,” he says.

The construction of the new University of Toronto residence is pending a final hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board this month.