Buildings - Award
Bahen Centre for Information Technology - University of Toronto
Address: 40 St. George St.
Architect/Urban Designer: Diamond and Schmitt Architects
Landscape Architect: Ian Gray & Associates
Owner/Developer: University of Toronto
I like the way this mid-block building and urban landscape has successfully negotiated a place in the ensemble of the campus. The siting of the building in conjunction to the existing Fields Institute continues the evolution of a language of courtyards as an integral fabric of the campus.
A large and complicated building program on an equally complicated urban block that does a marvelous job of asserting itself when appropriate and receding at other appropriate moments in deference to neighbours with whom it shares the block. Done less skillfully, or with timidity, it would have overwhelmed its setting, and not done justice to its important function. A very good (and rare) example of large urban institutional architecture.
The massing of this large academic building and the strategic handling of the ground plane are particularly commendable in this project. The connection of the new building to the existing Koffler Centre, and the development of an interior through block pedestrian route leading from St. George Street to a south-facing outdoor courtyard are important contributions to the University of Toronto campus. The retention of the Victorian house can only be read as a folly in what would otherwise be a fully realized work of contemporary architecture.
I think it's safe to say that, with the Bahen Centre, about 3,000 information technology students have been given not only a building but also a life within the city. Huge amounts of programmed space - about 400,000 square feet - have been remarkably tucked into a gentle, animated massing scheme that reverberates sympathetically against existing buildings while establishing its own contemporary rhythm of deeply recessed windows and groovy glass lounges cantilevered over the street - excellent for dancing when you've had enough of studying.