New Academic Building at Woodsworth College

Kongats Architects


This is a sensitive addition to a storied Toronto building on the University of Toronto campus. It’s an elegant building rendered with a deft architectural hand, that is working with an iconic piece of Toronto architecture in a lovely way. -Jury Comment

Reinterpreting the traditional academic cloister, the New Academic Building at Woodsworth College centres on shared social spaces for interacting, studying, and collaborating.

With their historical pedigree and romantic charm, inward-facing, quadrangle-enclosing buildings have been the default setting for collegiate architecture for centuries. At Woodsworth College, an internal arcade surrounding the quadrangle is a key place for encounter and engagement within the academic community.

The New Academic Building at Woodsworth College posits that the 21st-century pedagogical shift toward outreach and engagement requires educational environments that are more permeable to their surroundings. This ‘contemporary cloister’ for one of the seven colleges comprising the University of Toronto’s urban St. George campus takes the success of its existing context as a precedent, serving up the arcade as a vertical organizing element. The result is an academic and social hub that provides an environment conducive to sustained concentration, while connecting scholars to the world beyond its walls.

Woodsworth College is home to both the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources (CIRHR) and the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies (CRIM). Its existing, interconnected buildings include the 1892 Alexander McArthur House and the acclaimed 1992 Woodsworth College addition by Barton Myers Associates and KPMB; both are on the City of Toronto’s Heritage Register. Another part of the college, Kruger Hall (also known as the Drill Hall) will be demolished to make way for this 3,767-square-metre project, which will more than double the current space for the CIRHR and CRIM programs and consolidate them under one roof. The outdoor Peter. F. Bronfman Courtyard—created by the 1992 addition—will be preserved, with setbacks incorporated into the new building to minimize its cast shadows.

Program areas include a triple-height learning commons and other student and event spaces, offices and hoteling stations, six new classrooms, food services, and a library. Spaces are defined by circulation and interconnected horizontally and vertically to facilitate encounter and engagement.

An elegant stair weaves the movement of students through the building, framing a Student Commons area on the ground floor and circling a third-floor event space.

A driving concept shaping The New Academic Building at Woodsworth College is the continuation and reimagining of the traditional cloister formation provided by the 1992 wing. Extending and ‘pulling’ the cloister vertically through the new building organizes the spaces within, creating a multi-level arcade with ‘courtyards’ for interacting, studying, and collaborating. Circulation is exposed, allowing Woodsworth students, faculty, and staff to see and be seen, as they are connected to the city and to each other.

The glazing’s frit pattern evokes the rhythm of an arcade, creating a light sense of enclosure for the spaces within, while also connecting students to the larger campus surroundings.

A frit pattern developed over six repeating panes wraps the perimeter, combining access to natural light with a sense of traditional cloister-like enclosure. At points of termination or directional change, the frit disappears to provide uninterrupted, framed views of the urban campus.

This is the first University of Toronto building designed to meet a projected annual energy consumption performance target 40 percent better than Performance Path defined in ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2013, Section 11. Key sustainable strategies include 40 percent maximum window-to-wall ratio, R-25 wall assemblies, R-40 roof insulation, and a dedicated outdoor air system (chilled beams/radiant slabs) with improved air-side heat recovery and demand control ventilation.

CLIENT University of Toronto | ARCHITECT TEAM Alar Kongats (MRAIC), Tom Ngo (MRAIC), Amie Lee (MRAIC), Bosung Jeon, Courtney Ho, Paul Dolick, Fotini Pitoglou, Dane Halkiw | STRUCTURAL/ENVELOPE (BUILDING SCIENCE) Entuitive | MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL/SECURITY/IT/DATA/AV Smith + Andersen | SUSTAINABILITY/ENERGY MODELLING Footprint | LANDSCAPE North Design Office | CIVIL MGM Consulting Inc.| SHORING Terraprobe | COST Altus Group | BUILDING CODE/LIFE SAFETY/ACCESSIBILITY Arencon | ACOUSTICS/NOISE AND WIND RWDI | HERITAGE ERA Architects | FOOD SERVICES Cini-Little | VERTICAL TRANSPORTATION National Elevator Consulting | TRAFFIC LEA Consulting | URBAN PLANNING Bousfields Inc. | AREA 4,620m2 | BUDGET Withheld | STATUS Tender & Award | ANTICIPATED COMPLETION 2024