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In pictures: Turning 1 Spadina Cres. into a playground of urban ideas

The University of Toronto's architecture faculty is rolling out new plans for a site for education, research and public discussion about cities

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The Gothic building at One Spadina Crescent in Toronto, dating back to 1875, was built for Knox College, then a Presbyterian seminary. Since then, it’s been a medical lab, a hospital, and a university landmark that invites ghost stories.

DELLA ROLLINS/The Globe and Mail

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U of T’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Design has prepared a $50-million campaign to make 1 Spadina its new home - preserving the historic building and adding a new wing on the back.

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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The makeover restores the original Knox College building, and adds a large new wing on the back that includes lecture and studio space, a library, a public hall and a digital fabrication workshop.

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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The design, led by Boston firm NADAAA, calls for an irregularly shaped structure with a large sloped area cut out of the ground, and a landscape that folds up into angled green roofs. “The disciplines of planning, urban design and landscape are central to [the school’s] mission," Boston architect Nader Tehrani says in describing the new building. "And it’s not clear, in this building or in our field, where you draw the lines between them.”

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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In the new wing, floors and rooms include gaps to allow natural light to penetrate the building. 61 per cent of its interior space - which is large, at 100,000 square feet - will receive daylight, Mr. Tehrani says.

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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Richard Sommer, dean of the Daniels school, argues that 1 Spadina Cres. demands a bold change, but noted that, for years, the university “did not know what to do with this site,” which now includes a parking lot and grounds-maintenance facilities.

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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The building will include green design ideas including the use of natural light, “rainwater harvesting” and bicycle parking.

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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All the new building's features, Mr. Sommer says, will help break up the slightly cult-like feeling that is traditional to architecture schools, at a time when students are engaged with global issues and designs to an unprecedented degree. “Our point of view,” he says, “is that the city, and the culture of the city, is the crucible of their education.”

NADAAA/DANIELS FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE LANDSCAPE AND DESIGN

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