KPMB Architects design doubles space of Rotman School of Management

The Rotman Expansion, the winning scheme in an invited design competition designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB), was officially opened in September. The Rotman School is part of the University of Toronto and according to a recent Financial Times survey of MBA programs, is ranked one the top 10 business schools in the world for faculty research. The expansion project was conceived to create a vibrant global hub in which to evolve Rotman’s core mission to promote the power of creativity, innovation and integrative thinking in 21st-century business education.

As Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman, said, “We now have the hardware necessary to engage in next building of Rotman’s software – the programs and the people – to be best in the world for Canada. The interplay of this hardware and software opens huge possibilities.”

The nine-storey-high project is seamlessly integrated with and doubles the size of the Rotman School’s home on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus. It is also connected to an existing Victorian residence. KPMB conceived a vertical campus to fit the varied program of tiered classrooms, study rooms, research centres, study lounges, and dedicated student spaces on a tight urban site. The project features many spaces for gathering, including the event hall, a state-of-the-art teaching and meeting space. The 500-seat event hall is the centrepiece of the project, its large elevated glass box facing out on to St. George Street to broadcast the vibrancy of Rotman’s programs to students of U of T and the city. The multi-level south atrium features a large-scale serpentine staircase with a hot pink accent which simultaneously reduces reliance on elevators and increases interaction between students and faculty.

Marianne McKenna, partner in charge for KPMB of the Rotman expansion, says that the design process was inspired by the Rotman’s Integrative Thinking™ program: “the design is a direct reflection of broad thinking, flexibility and teamwork involving the input of the Rotman and the University of Toronto.”

Targeting LEED® Silver certification, the project exemplifies sustainable design principles and prioritizes the well-being of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The interior is filled with natural light, fresh air, and spectacular views of the university’s campus. Terraces with green roofs and a courtyard provide access to the outdoors. In scale and massing, the KPMB design responds to the surrounding context, between the residential scale of the historic 19th-century residence and the massive Brutalist architecture of the Robarts Library across the street. It is sited to respect views and minimize shadow impact on Massey College to the east.

Design partner Bruce Kuwabara said, “The expansion project is both contemporary and in dialogue with the history and the architecture that surrounds it. An expression of the hallmarks of the Canadian experience – tolerance and openness – the Rotman is now open and poised to help move Rotman forward in Canada and on the world stage.”