June 8, 2005
by Canadian Architect
Toronto philanthropist Bernard Herman has given $1 million to help restore the University of Toronto’s heritage property at 1 Spadina Crescent. Herman’s gift will refurbish the three-storey building’s elegant entrance and grand staircase to create the Sharon and Bernard Herman Lobby. It is the first step in restoring the historic building which houses U of T’s internationally acclaimed Department of Fine Art in the Faculty of Arts and Science.
“People give money to the poor, the sick and the aged to satisfy their conscience,” says Herman, a U of T alumnus and avid art collector. “A person gives to the Faculty of Arts and Science to satisfy his or her intellect.”
Professor Pekka Sinervo, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, says Herman’s gift is a crucial first step towards turning a noted heritage building into a state-of-the-art academic facility. “Mr. Herman has made an important contribution towards preserving the city’s architectural past andsecuring a dynamic future for the arts at U of T,” says Sinervo. “One Spadina will be not only be a prominent southwestern gateway to the university, but a bridge between the academy and the vibrant artistic, commercial and residential communities it borders.”
Built in 1875 on one of the city’s few circular lots, 1 Spadina Crescent is the former home of both Knox College and the Connaught Laboratories, and at one time served as a convalescent hospital. It was purchased by U of T in 1972. The university hopes to restore the building to its former glory,integrating both studio and art history resources in a single landmark structure. Because of its imposing Gothic Revival style and central location, when restored and renovated, the building will establish a new gateway to U of T’s St. George campus.
Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto is Canada’s leading teaching and research university with more than 67,000 students and over 400,000 alumni worldwide. The university comprises 28 academic divisions, colleges and faculties on three campuses. This includes 14 professional faculties, numerous research centres, nine affiliated teaching hospitals and Canada’s largest university library system – the fourth largest in North America. For 11 consecutive years, U of T has taken the top spot among research intensive universities in the annual Maclean’s magazine university ranking.