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Office dA - John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at University of Toronto Print E-mail
Friday, 19 February 2010 00:00

The expansion of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto speaks to its context in a variety of scales-- activating the site from the outside in, as well as inside out. A new cladding will be built around the existing structure, giving the building a unified image that articulates a larger idea about the site through the way it engages its surroundings, while also improving the building’s environmental performance.
The design proposes a public promenade from the urban context, through the core of the building, all the way to the terrace rooftop. By creating visual, accessible, and programmatic links between the various disciplines, the building’s interior is transformed as a place of learning, while its altered massing reconfigures the city’s skyline.

The existing building of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design anchors the southwest corner of University of Toronto, but does not engage the urban context, thus posing great potentials for the redefinition of the threshold into the campus. In the new design, the southwest, southeast, and northwest corners of the building take on a new urban significance by engaging new entry sequences.

John_H_Daniels_02Acknowledging the oblique bias of the site, the main entry responds to the diagonal relationship the building maintains towards the street where the building skin is pulled up, revealing the original building behind, while opening up a “stramp” –a hybrid stair and ramp—that welcomes people of all abilities. The use of these varying architectural moments at each corner and the supportive landscape strategies offer an urban walk connecting to the upper campus.

John_H_Daniels_08One of the great challenges of this building, and its program, is to create a sense of community, interdisciplinary interaction, and collaborative platforms in a structure that is predisposed to separation and stratification due to its vertical organization.

To solve the programmatic requirements of the project, we add a fifth floor and a partial six floor that opens into a roof terrace. The core idea of our scheme is to create spaces of interaction, using a series of interlocking double height spaces in the new areas of the building, which tie to existing double height spaces in the building. The intention is to create links between the collective spaces –the student lounge and the review spaces with the studio spaces, research labs, Library, and the Auditorium.

The public programs are dispersed throughout the building stack, with the auditorium at the lowest level, the student lounge on the third floor, and the new Library and terrace rooftop on the highest levels. As a way of fostering a dynamic and interactive social and intellectual life for its users, the design incorporates a landscape of ramps, stairs and terraces that ascend the building in its core, by way of atria.

The figure of the building is derived as a silhouette of those functions it clads and the urban duties it is meant to perform. The new glazed skin system is fritted and appears to slide up and down the building in correspondence to the staircases, arcades, bleachers and other functions it shrouds. The form of the building, then, is disciplined by the logic of its tectonic units, while offering a powerful iconic profile that participates in the skyline of Toronto, and effectively speaks to the importance of the architectural institution within the city.
In terms of building energy performance, the glazing of the double facade has a high solar heat gain coefficient to allow solar energy through, but a low U-value to help minimize heat loss. In the winter, the façade is sealed closed to trap the heat from the solar radiation. In the summer, the façade can be opened up at the top and bottom of each floor to keep air flowing throughout the façade with manual hand cranks, and the existing operable windows can be opened for natural ventilation.
The new Daniels Building at the University of Toronto will be an exemplar of revitalization of an existing university building into a high-performance, resource efficient facility that provides a comfortable and high quality indoor environment. By comprehensively addressing a wide gamut of sustainable concerns, the renovated Daniels Building will have a significantly reduced environmental footprint with LEED Gold and carbon-neutral goals. The conceptual approach to the design is to first and foremost reduce the demand for resources (whether materials, energy, water, etc.) through pragmatic design, and then provide for the resulting demand efficiently.

Project facts and credits

Date: 2009 - present
Area: 6,630 sqm (existing) + 1,950 sqm (new addition)
Client: University of Toronto DFALD
Architecture: Office dA [design architect]. Principal in Charge: Nader Tehrani. Design Principal: Nader Tehrani/Monica Ponce de Leon. Project Architect: Daniel Gallagher. Project Coordinator: Lisa Huang AIA. Design Team: Arthur Chang, Melissa Harlan, Natsuki Meada, Harry Lowd, Remon Alberts, Catie Newell, Rich Lee, Jonathan Palazzolo, Masoud Akbarzadeh, Sulaiman Albader, Abrar Al-Ebrahim, Jeff Dee, Brandon Clifford, Abdulwahab Almazeedi, Wadha Al-Massad, Ebrahim Alawadhi, Suzy Costello

Adamson Associates Architects [architect of record]: David Jansen (principal in charge), Ann Daniel, Dominic Virdo
Halcrow Yolles [structural engineer]: Barry Charnish
Atelier Ten [sustainability consultant]: Nico Kienzl, John An
The Mitchell Group (TMP) [mechanical engineer], Phil Bastow
Mulvey & Banani [electrical engineer]: Joe Berardi
Coen + Partners [landscape architect]: Shane Coen (principal in charge), Stephanie Grotta, Bryan Kramer
Leber/Rubes [code consultant]: Dave Syrett
Soberman Engineering [elevator consultant]: Jon Soberman

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