If you have visited campus over the summer months, you may have noticed a flurry of activity as construction crews put the finishing touches on the new North building at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
Designed by Perkins+Will, the building replaces the original North building which was demolished in 2015. The new 210,000-square-foot, six-storey facility will complete the renaissance of the northern portion of campus. “It’s exciting to see the activity and know that it’s all coming together,” says Stepanka Elias, director of operations, design and construction in UTM’s Department of Facilities, Management & Planning.
Stuart Olson Inc. construction crews are currently completing work on interior and exterior spaces, including a rooftop garden to be used for future events. Inside, crews are wrapping up work on the airy six-storey North Hall atrium space, which will soon become a “go-to” spot to grab a bite, meet friends and take a study break between classes.
According to Elias, the new North will be open and ready for students in time for the first day of classes in September. The new building features 29 classrooms that add 37,000-square-feet (3,450 square meters) of classroom space to campus. There is much excitement about active learning classrooms—technology-enhanced spaces specially designed to facilitate group work and boost collaborative problem solving. “The new podia in the classrooms look like the Starship Enterprise,” Elias says, referring to the high-tech capabilities of the Star Trek spaceship command bridge.
The new North offers many features designed with students in mind. There will be more than 500 new campus study spaces throughout the building to accommodate individual and group work in meeting rooms, quiet alcoves and study carrels. Students can stash gear in 390 lockers to be operated by UTMSU, and there will be lots of locations to charge devices. “There will be a variety of plug-in options in public spaces and classrooms, and Wi-Fi throughout the building,” says senior planner Greg Karavelis. The building also features washrooms that meet accessibility standards, including large stalls with change tables (and a mechanized lift change table), as well as single- and all-gender washrooms. “It gives everyone an option to use a space that makes them feel comfortable,” Elias says.
The building will also feature a dedicated space for digital humanities research and the Centre for South Asian Civilizations. “It’s a beautiful space designed for collaborative research, with meeting rooms, study and social space,” Elias says.
Staff and faculty have already begun to move into new building. The Departments of English & Drama, Philosophy, Historical Studies, Language Studies, Political Science and Sociology are settling into new offices on the upper floors and the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre is scheduled to relocate from the library in August.
Large windows on every floor offer stunning views in every direction. Karavelis notes that the building incorporates a number of exciting environmental innovations, including five green roof spaces and special glass designed to deter bird strikes. The building will be heated and cooled using UTM’s campus district energy system, which increases energy efficiency. A rainwater reuse system will supply water for irrigation and other uses.
Elias notes that the UTM community will see minor work continue throughout the fall. “I&ITS staff will continue integration and refinement of classroom technology to ensure that it works perfectly,” she says. Minor exterior work will also continue. “The building is cladded in terracotta tiles manufactured in Germany,” says Karavelis. “Because it’s a natural material, there is some variation in the appearance, and some tiles may be moved around to achieve the best appearance for the building.”
“We are excited to celebrate this brand-new facility which will accommodate our growth and complement the stunning architecture at UTM,” Elias says. An official opening ceremony and announcement of the building’s name will be announced at a later date.