October 6, 2007
by Canadian Architect
Over the past decade, the U of T Faculty of Law has witnessed tremendous growth, and their existing facilities and physical space in Flavelle House and Falconer Hall can no longer support the law school’s current programmatic needs or anticipated future needs. Consequently, in June 2007, the Faculty issued an Expression of Interest to firms across Canada and internationally, to seek a broad range of expertise and creative input on the kind of design space that could be created on the Faculty’s existing site.
The Faculty of Law is located in an important institutional setting. It is prominently located and accessed from Queen’s Park Crescent, a main city thoroughfare, but also the formal symbolic edge to the largest open space in downtown Toronto. The Expression of Interest asked firms 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.
In order to ensure a broad and diverse range of design expertise and ideas, the Faculty advertised both nationally and internationally, and specifically targeted a number of well known and highly acclaimed firms. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with the Faculty receiving submissions from a broad array of leading Canadian and international firms.
Following receipt of the submissions on June 27, a selection committee of university delegates and faculty members carefully reviewed each of the proposals. From the numerous firms that expressed an interest, six were shortlisted, and asked to prepare and give presentation/interviews to a committee comprised of representatives from the architectural community, university delegates, members of the law school, and Lisa Rochon, architectural critic for The Globe and Mail.
On July 6, the selection committee met with each of the six chosen firms for presentations of ideas. The committee was extremely pleased with the quality and depth of the presentations, which were all highly creative with a number of innovative and exciting ideas for how the Faculty’s space needs could be met with new additions and extensive renovations. After lengthy discussion and deliberation, the selection committee reached a consensus around three exceptional architectural firms that would be asked to work on the development studies and which were submitted on September 21.
The three leading Canadian architectural firms that will be preparing conceptual designs for the new law school building and precinct are:
* Hariri Pontarini Architects of Toronto
* Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects of Toronto
* Saucier + Perrotte Architectes of Montreal
Throughout the fall and winter 2007/08, Dean Mayo Moran will be meeting with various groups, including alumni and friends of the law school, members of the legal community, and faculty, staff and students, to elicit feedback and ideas around the three models and proposed design plans. Public presentations and exhibits are also scheduled for this time.