Joseph L. Rotman School of Management Expansion

PROJECT Joseph L. Rotman School of Management Expansion, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
ARCHITECT Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects
PHOTOS Maris Mezulis and Tom Arban

The expansion of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto was conceived to create a vibrant global hub in which to advance its curriculum of Integrative Thinking™ and to establish a destination where students and leaders could mobilize solutions and initiatives that benefit our economy and society in the 21st century.

The siting and massing strategy focuses on weaving the section of St. George Street between Hoskin Avenue and Bloor Street into a cohe-sive whole. It also mitigates the varied scale and texture of the heritage and Modernist architectural context–between the refined scale of Massey College to the east and the robust mass of Robarts Library across the street to the west, between the residential scale of an existing Victorian house and the original Rotman building designed by the Zeidler Roberts Partnership in 1995. The expansion organizes the 165,000-square-foot program around the heritage building on St. George while maintaining views and minimizing shadow impacts on the iconic Massey College by lowering the tower to the north edge of the site.

Conceptually, an integrated vertical campus accommodates all the program requirements within the limited parameters of the tight urban site. A series of direct horizontal and vertical connections between the existing and new facilitate the flow of people. The ground floor houses the most public functions including a café with a fireplace lounge. An event space on the second level forms the heart of the new building and is expressed as a large-scale elevated glass box overlooking the street. An atrium and interconnecting stair intensifies opportunities for exchange. The block of office and research spaces prioritizes a connected environment to promote interdisciplinary exchange between Rotman’s research institutes. A series of habitable outdoor spaces and terraces with green roofs provide break-out space with expansive views of the campus and skyline.

The exterior cladding includes precast concrete Ductal panels to resonate with the slate roofs of the historic campus fabric as well as tinted glazing in a range of shades to provide various degrees of reflection, shading and transparency. The interior palette employs white oak on both the atrium locker walls and on classroom walls and furnishings. The application of hot pink on the atrium stair creates a dynamic and playful counterpoint to the minimalist palette.

Advancing Rotman’s long-term sustainability and business strategy, the design meets LEED Silver requirements. It prioritizes the well-being of students, faculty, staff and visitors with an interior filled with natural light, fresh air and access to the outdoors.

The architecture is a direct expression of Rotman’s core mission to promote the power of creativity and integrative thinking. The design fuses ideas of campus and city-building, study and interaction, sustainable design, creativity and business strategy. Conceived through the lens of Integrative Thinking™, the design encapsulates the power of architecture to harmonize seemingly opposite notions and objectives at every scale of design. It also reinforces the continued necessity of architectural excellence to inspire continued growth in education to ensure that Canada remains competitive in the global marketplace. 

Jury Large glass volumes are anchored to an existing Victorian house and seem to float behind it. The volumes are simple and their detailing well-controlled, giving this building a sense of refinement and solidity. The lipstick-pink line of a staircase spirals up and down their core, to act as a social condenser and tease out the element of creation and innovation inherent in the school’s philosophy. This bright gesture in a sober box, along with the light volumes against the stately mansion, make a convincing use of contrasts.  CA

Client University of Toronto | Architect Team Bruce Kuwabara, Marianne McKenna, Luigi LaRocca, Paulo Rocha, Dave Smythe, Myriam Tawadros, Bruno Weber, John Peterson, Janice Wong, Richard Wong, Victor Garzon, Lilly Liaukus, Bryn Marler, Rachel Stecker, Maryam Karimi, Carolyn Lee, Danielle Sucher, Laura Carwardine | Structural Halcrow Yolles | Mechanical/Electrical Smith & Andersen | Civil Cole Engineering | Heritage ERA Architects | Energy/LEED Transsolar and Halsall Associates | Building Envelope BVDA Group | Landscape Janet Rosenberg + Associates | Costing Turner & Townsend cm2r | Life Safety Leber | Rubes | Acoustics Aercoustics Engineering Ltd. | Audio-Visual Engineering Harmonics | Signage Entro Communications/G+A | Contractor Eastern Construction Company Ltd. | Area 15,000 m2 | Budget $65.6 M | Completion May 2012