Bringing together intentional design and green building practices at a strategically significant location will enable a new hub to become a destination for art in Toronto. It will also boost the engagement between community and industry partners and the Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning.
The Humber Cultural Hub – which will be part of the revitalization of Humber’s Lakeshore Campus beginning this spring – is envisioned to strengthen the fabric of a vibrant local arts and cultural community by providing much-needed performance and gathering spaces in southwestern Toronto, says Chris Whitaker, Humber’s president. “The landmark building will celebrate creativity in design and function. And by helping to meet community needs, we support the Toronto Arts Council’s strategic priority of broadening locations for arts programming and support.”
The planned revitalization includes an up to 600-seat performance venue, a 150-seat rehearsal hall, film studios and multi-use spaces, a 300-bed student residence and more. It reflects the institute’s dedication to engage with the local community while building capacity to address the steady growth in enrolment and providing training in state-of-the-art facilities, says Dr. Whitaker.
Scott Valens, director of capital development at Humber, says the design and function of the hub will reflect its unique locality. “The site is surrounded by dense urban fabric and adjacent to a large urban park that serves as a community resource,” he says. “There is also a significant link to Indigenous history, due to its location at the start of the ‘Carrying Trail,’ where Indigenous peoples brought their goods, food and culture from Lake Ontario all the way to a connection point at Lake Huron.”
Mr. Valens envisions the “architecture to be a bold statement that is – at the same time – welcoming to the neighbourhood and encouraging connection and interactions.”
The key values driving the building’s design include “resilience, low maintenance and flexible building systems,” he says. “We are also demonstrating global leadership in sustainability through healthy, accessible and efficient design and construction.”
Among the ambitious environmental performance targets are LEED Platinum and net-zero-carbon certifications as well as meeting the Toronto Green Standard. “We are raising the bar with every new project at Humber,” says Mr. Valens, who adds that the building will serve as an interactive teaching tool.
Guillermo Acosta, senior dean of Humber’s Faculty of Media and Creative Arts, sees the hub as “an integrator for different disciplines and partners,” he says. “In the multidisciplinary performance hall, for example, music, theatre and dance performances can be integrated with multimedia and film projections. And state-of-the-art biometrics equipment can measure the audience’s reaction.”
The collected data can inform research and provide insights for industry partners, says Mr. Acosta, who envisions data about audience engagement helping to advance accessibility and inclusion for people with different abilities.
“It’s important to deliberately promote diversity,” he says. “When you bring different disciplines and perspectives together, that has a strong impact. I think the outcomes will be transformative for our industry partners but also for Humber graduates, who will gain experiences in a multidisciplinary environment and applied research. This will enable them to make a contribution to their places of work right away.”
Designed to bring together culture, creativity and community, the hub will not only enhance opportunities for students, it will also boost the region’s cultural and creative industries, says Dr. Whitaker. “When we encourage meaningful interactions and collaborations between the Humber community, industry partners and the general public, everybody can benefit.”
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s Editorial Department was not involved in its creation.