Bortolotto designs interactive gateway to the Ontario College of Art and Design University

Toronto-based Bortolotto has been commissioned by the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) to convert the university’s main office building into the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion – a multi-use student work and exhibition space. Bortolotto’s proposal will wrap an existing OCAD U building with an intricately perforated, technologically responsive scrim that will dramatically transform the southeast corner of Dundas and McCaul Streets into a dynamic, interactive gateway for the campus.

So that the current building can take its place adjacent to the architecturally significant Art Gallery of Ontario by Frank Gehry and OCAD U’s Sharp Centre for Design by Will Alsop, Bortolotto proposes covering the structure with a diaphanous white veil of water-jet cut aluminum panels on a metal subframe secured by structural steel outriggers. The lacy façade will gently peel away from the edges of the building in a gesture to the nearby institutions, attracting passersby with its intricate form and animating the street with views of the colourful student work displayed inside.

Bortolotto created the patterned façade by mapping data about Toronto’s artistic community and augmenting the resulting grid to position OCAD U as the nucleus of the documented paths. The complex web of connections highlights the cross-disciplinary and collaborative practices that characterize OCAD U’s creative identity. By snapping a photo of a specific section of the pattern with their mobile devices, pedestrians will be able to read information provided by OCAD U using an app now being developed in collaboration with OCAD U’s Digital Media Research Lab. The app will be a dynamic communications tool that will support OCAD U’s mission to engage the broader community through digital media.

Inside, Bortolotto will convert the space from its current use as the university’s corporate head office into a flexible student-centric facility that will reinforce OCAD U’s unique position as Canada’s “university of the imagination.” The raw industrial minimalist interiors will include studios, and interactive meeting and event spaces to support experiential learning and highlight student work.

The design phase of the project is completed and construction is expected to begin later this year. The renovation of the 1,514-square-metere facility has a budget of $6 million.

“We’re proud of this exciting solution that brings together design and technology to redefine the corner and enable the university to communicate with the community in a new way,” says Bortolotto’s President, Tania Bortolotto.

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