March 1, 2008
by Canadian Architect
Toronto-based Hariri Pontarini Architects has been selected from a shortlist of three firms for the renovation and expansion of the Faculty of Law, beating out Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects of Toronto and Saucier + Perrotte architectes of Montreal.
The redevelopment of the Faculty of Law comes in response to external reviews carried out in 2001 and 2006 which called for significant upgrading of the buildings which house the U of T Faculty of Law, internationally acclaimed for its diverse faculty, highly sought-after students, and distinguished alumni. Over the past decade, the law school’s academic, extra-curricular, and co-curricular programs have grown dramatically and the number of faculty members has more than doubled. While these changes have enhanced the quality of legal education and ensured that U of T has remained Canada’s pre-eminent law school, they have also left the law school in desperate need of space.
Firms submitting design ideas for the Faculty’s new building project were instructed to take advantage of the law school’s prominent location by introducing new physical and visual connections with both Queen’s Park and Philosopher’s Walk, keeping in mind that the precinct should not be considered in isolation, but rather as part of an integrated campus system. The request was for innovative design approaches for the creation of a landmark institutional precinct that will accommodate and augment the faculty’s historic buildings, engage and inspire members of our community, reflect a commitment to leading-edge environmental sustainability and physical accessibility, and play an important part in the architecture of the city.
According to Siamak Hariri, the proposed design is about building community to create a strong, central, uplifting space that gathers the entire school, enables accidental encounters, and hosts celebrations. The central gathering space, dubbed the Forum, will be a welcoming place for major events and one that encourages intellectual dialogue between classes. Hariri asserts that the proposed design seeks to take full advantage of the potential of the amazing site, and will reflect the stature of the law school in an understated, inspiring and enduring way.