CAMH Research Centre

KPMB Architects, TreanorHL


“This is a big building that seems comfortable, with qualities of delicacy and softness. It brings something quiet, even if it’s busy from a programmatic point of view. It’s well-detailed in its sustainability aspects. The facade moves in and out, allowing the park to terrace through the building. It is also the most successful integration of mass timber that we saw among the entries. It’s the whole package, in a large, significant project.” – Stephan Chevalier, juror

The research centre will be Canada’s largest hybrid mass timber public building, and will showcase how the structural technology can be used in a curvilinear building.

From the mid-19th century until 1976, what was originally known as the Provincial Lunatic Asylum occupied this site. The Queen Street campus of what is now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has undergone profound changes since then, and the design of its new Research Centre evokes a much older and very different meaning of the word “asylum”: an oasis for compassion, care, dignity and respect.

A reminder from the site’s past contrasts starkly with the transparent, curvilinear new building that signifies its future. Fragments of the brick perimeter wall constructed by residents of the 1850s asylum have been retained; these Heritage Wall remnants are re-imagined as a frame for—and threshold to—an inclusive and inviting hub of activity supporting mental health.

Site axonometric

In section, there are four main parts: a subterranean research zone (Research Roots); the glass-enclosed Pavilion in the Park volume that consolidates communal, clinical and amenity spaces into the first two floors; the four-storey Research Sanctuary; and the rooftop Beacon, a flexible event space. In plan, the floor plate is organized into north and south volumes flanking convergence space for researchers, clients and visitors. A butterfly stair in the central atrium connects the four levels of the Research Sanctuary.

The building’s communal, clinical and amenity spaces are consolidated on its ground and second floors.

The Centre is expected to meet LEED V4 Platinum and Tier 3 Toronto Green City Standards. In addition to providing a much smaller carbon footprint than could be achieved with conventional building systems, its hybrid mass-timber structure exudes warmth and wellness. The building is constructed using a wood-and-concrete composite floor system called BubbleLAM, and will be Canada’s largest hybrid mass timber public building.

Sectional sustainability diagram

Adelaide Street West, the site’s southern boundary, is transformed into a linear green park, connecting the campus to neighbourhoods to the west and east, as well as to the planned King-Liberty Smart Track transit station. The Collaboration Garden along the east edge of the building extends workspace and meeting space into the outdoors, with seating areas nestled into undulating mounds. Along with these mounds, a water feature in the garden provides an organic, meandering counterpoint to the Heritage Wall’s undeviating rectilinearity.

The east greenspace includes mixed-use spaces separated by undulating mounds, seating ribbons, and a curving water feature.

CLIENT Centre for Addiction and Mental Health | ARCHITECT TEAM KPMB—Bruce Kuwabara (FRAIC, design lead), Mitchell Hall (FRAIC, team lead), Judith Taylor (MRAIC, Project manager), Kael Opie (Project architect), Glenn MacMullin (project architect), Amanda Sebris, Andrew Barat, Bahman Safiee, Camilo Avendano, Carolyn Lee, Chris Baziw, Christina Facey, Colin Geary, Erik Skouris, Gerald DesRochers, Giulio Bruno, Goran Milosevic (MRAIC), Hamza Adenali, Ivan Efremov, Jackie Chapel, Jessie Tian, Katie Munroe, Kevin Mockford, Klaudia Lengyel, Kyle Nhan, Lukas Bergmark, Lyndsay Hall, Meaghan Hall, Myles Burry, Nina Djurkovic, Peter Ehvert, Robert Faber, Sahana Dharmaraj. TreanorHL—Tim Reynolds, Patrick Jones, Jeff Davis, Micah Davis, Kelli Blacklock, Lisa Lamb, Brittany Reynolds, Saskia Kimball. | MEP AEI | STRUCTURAL Blackwell | ENERGY/SUSTAINABILITY Transsolar | LANDSCAPE PFS Studio | ENVELOPE RDH | CIVIL WSP | HERITAGE ERA | CODE/ACCESSIBILITY LRI | ELEVATOR Soberman | LOADING BA Consulting | SPECIFICATIONS Brian Ballantyne | FOOD Kaizen | ARBORIST Bruce Trees | SPA Urban Strategies | FF&E EPA/Colliers | LEED RWDI | A/V Sextant Group | RENDERINGS Norm Li | LIGHTING MBII | COMPETITION VIDEO Puncture Design| COSTING Vermeulens | WATER FEATURE DEW | ACOUSTICS Aercoustics | EXTERIOR NOISE, SNOW AND WIND ANALYSIS Novus / SLR | AREA 36,170 m2 | BUDGET Withheld | CURRENT STAGE 100% Design development | ANTICIPATED COMPLETION 2027