Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

George Brown waterfront campus: A beacon over the lake

Health sciences building is one of the important first steps toward revitalizing the Toronto waterfront

1 of 9

The new George Brown Waterfront Health Sciences Campus, with its sweeping white concrete lines, nestles in front of the downtown towers along the shore of Lake Ontario. The college campus is one of the important first steps toward revitalizing the Toronto waterfront.

Tom Arban Photography

2 of 9

Built on shifting sands, landfill and a high water table, the project provided special challenges. ‘We had geysers coming up from the bottom of the hole during construction,’ says Terry Comeau, executive director of the project for the college.

Tom Arban Photography

3 of 9

A Great Lakes ship loads up at a sugar refinery just west of the George Brown building, which was completed last September. Before construction could start, tonnes of contaminated soil were removed from the site. Then a sturdy concrete ‘bathtub’ and retaining walls were created.

Tom Arban Photography

4 of 9

It took only 17 months to build the $175-million campus. Architect Bruce Kuwabara says the fritted glass, chosen to shield the building from heat and to ward off migratory birds, has given the campus “a serene” character.

Tom Arban Photography

Story continues below advertisement

5 of 9

The 330,000-square-foot building is washed by natural light. Among its many green-building features are automated blinds that drop during the heat of the day and a green roof deck.

Tom Arban Photography

6 of 9

Students can congregate or plug into WiFi in several "learning landscapes." A minimum number of elevators were installed, to encourage stair climbing. It’s a health institution, after all, where courses in nursing, dental, health and wellness and health services are taught.

Tom Arban Photography

7 of 9

Last fall the campus won the Neighbourhood Scale award from the Canadian Urban Institute, not only for transforming a brownfield site, but also for contributing to the community. Citizens may have their teeth cleaned there, mobility problems assessed, blood-pressure checked.

Tom Arban Photography

8 of 9

The site is bounded by Lake Ontario and Queen's Quay, between Jarvis and Sherbourne streets. George Brown has an option to expand on a block of land north of the current building. It could build another 225,000 square feet. The college hopes to finalize the expansion plan in the next few months, college president Anne Sado says.

Tom Arban Photography

9 of 9

As night falls, the building ‘has a glowing effect out over the water and I’m told by sailor friends of ours that they can actually be out on the other side of the island and still see the building coming in. So we’re a beacon out over the lake,’ Ms. Comeau adds.

Tom Arban Photography

Report an error