Fact Sheet: One Spadina

One Spadina Crescent is a showcase for the city—a world-leading venue for education, research and public outreach on architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The revitalized site is the new home of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

A new home for a growing Faculty

In 2008, John H. Daniels (BArch ’50, LLD Hon. 2011) and Myrna Daniels made a cornerstone gift of $14 million to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design—the largest gift ever made to an architecture school in Canadian history. At the time, the Faculty planned to renovate and expand its existing facility at 230 College Street; however, the Daniels’ landmark benefaction allowed it to imagine a greater role for itself both nationally and globally.

  • In 2012, the Daniels Faculty reintroduced an undergraduate major: a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies, effectively doubling enrollment.
  • Plans are underway to mount a new PhD program in Architecture, Landscape, and Design Studies.
  • The Faculty will be launching a new Institute for Architecture and Human Health, which will draw on the University’s traditional strengths in the health sciences and public policy to research the impact that architecture and design have on the quality of health care services and facilities. This institute will anchor new graduate programs in Health Design.
  • As of July 1, 2013, the University of Toronto’s Visual Studies department transfered from the Faculty of Arts and Science to the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.
  • The One Spadina project will double the space available to Daniels students and professors—to more than 100,000 sq./ft.—and build a far more visible platform for the Faculty.
  • In recognition of an additional donation of $10 million from John H. Daniels (BArch 1950, LLD Hon. 2011) and Myrna Daniels, bringing their total benefaction to a remarkably generous $24 million, the Faculty’s facilities at One Spadina will bear the name ‘Daniels Building.’
  • Classes at One Spadina began in September 2017.
  • The building was completed in Spring 2018.
  • Future phases/additions are planned.

An exemplar of urban design

Designed by Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner, principals of the internationally acclaimed firm NADAAA — in collaboration with Architect-of-record Adamson & Associates, landscape architects Public Work, and heritage architects ERA — One Spadina includes dynamic, flexible learning and research environments for faculty and students, and will nurture the next generation of leaders in the field.

Below is a presentation Tehrani and Faulkner gave on the building project on June 11, 2013:

  • The revitalized building is a model of sustainable construction, complete with built-in resiliency and the ability to transform over time. The new building showcases leading sustainable design practices, including rainwater harvesting, daylighting, bicycle parking, and a green roof, built to incorporate photovoltaic technology as it evolves.
  • Made of glass, stone, and steel, the contemporary addition will protect views of the historic building and its grand turrets.
  • The fence that circled the property was be removed, and a sidewalk surrounds the edge of the site to allow pedestrian access and movement throughout.
  • Nader Tehrani has been widely recognized as a leading figure in architecture today. Among other accolades, he has received fourteen Progressive Architecture Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture (2002) and the Cooper Hewitt Award for Architecture (2007). Recent commissions either completed or underway include the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne, and the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Tehrani is also a leading pedagogue. He is currenlty the Dean of Cooper Union's Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and former Head of the Department of Architecture a the MIT School of Architecture and Planning where he served as the Department Head from 2010-2014.

One Spadina: By the numbers

Construction cost: $69 million CAD
Number of people who have donated to the campaign: 980
Number of alumni who have donated to the campaign 531
Gifts pledged to the One Spadina capital project to date: $27.4 million

The Daniels Faculty's campaign: Boundless by design

The Daniels Faculty launched its campaign in November 2012. The goal for the campaign is $41 mllion, $36 million of which is the capital campaign for the renewal and expansion of the Faculty at One Spadina Crescent, and $5 million of which is designated to support student awards. To date, the Faculty has raised 85% of its campaign goal.

The Daniels Faculty is incredibly grateful to its donors, which include alumni and prominent members of Toronto’s business, development, architecture, and design community. Together they are making the Daniels Building — a new centre for scholarship, research, education, collaboration, and dialogue on design and city building — a reality.

A hub for education, research, and public outreach

The renewal of One Spadina is allowing the Daniels Faculty to further expand curricular programs and intensify research activities, industry partnerships, public programming, and outreach.

Program offered by the Daniels Faculty:

  • Master of Architecture
  • Master of Landscape Architecture
  • Master of Urban Design
  • Master of Visual Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts, Architectural Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts, Visual Studies

Design Studios

One Spadina includes more versatile, twenty-first century studios, where students engage in project-based learning, synthesizing principles and techniques introduced elsewhere in the curriculum. The new studios facilitate the use of digital technologies and new modes of collaboration. A combined 30,000 square feet is devoted to studio space, offering students expansive views of the city and offering those travelling down Spadina Avenue from the north a jewel-like view into the building.

The Daniels Corporation Atrium

The Daniels Corporation atrium doubles as a stair and amphitheater leading up to the building’s third floor graduate studio, and it is the primary public connection to one of the building’s most inspirational spaces of learning and making. The Atrium provides an informal gathering space for students to convene and observe events taking place in the Principal Hall, as well as a space for students to gather, study, and socialize —an example of how the building offers porous spaces of creativity, learning and engagement aimed at stimulating discussion.

Digital Fabrication Laboratory

The new fabrication laboratory, which facilitates the production of advanced prototypes, features a variety of computationally-controlled technologies, including large 3-axis routers, fused deposition modeling rapid-prototyping systems, a ZCorp colour 3D printer, several laser cutters, a large format vacuum former, and a suite of workstations.

Main Hall

Each year, the Faculty presents public lectures, fora, and conferences that showcase leaders in the fields of architecture, design, and sustainable urbanization. A multi-purpose public hall at One Spadina will more than double the size of the Daniels Faculty’s previous lecture theatre. The new, flexible space will hold over 400 people and be able to be configured in multiple layouts, allowing for ample seating and advanced multi-media presentations. The hall will be connected to other spaces in the building, including a mediateque and studio-based amphitheatre.

Architecture and Design Gallery

The Daniels Building at One Spadina will introduce an elegant new 8,000-squre-foot public gallery, the only exhibition space devoted exclusively to architecture and design in Ontario. The gallery will present professionally curated exhibitions of international significance on architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and other allied design fields. The University’s curatorial and teaching talent, as well as its students, will use the gallery to promote experimentation, educate the public about architecture, design, and visual culture, and promote both established and emerging talent.

Eberhard Zeidler Library

The new library at One Spadina includes space for collections, larger study spaces, group study rooms, additional teaching space and a dedicated section for its rare book collection. A place of quiet reflection in counterpoint to the energy and pace of the Design Studios and Fabrication Lab, the library occupies what was originally the part of the refectory area at Knox College. It is open to the public, offering students, researchers, urban planners, design professionals, journalists, and design aficionados access to collections in art, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design that are unrivalled in Toronto.

The Commons

Everyday access to the building occurs along a newly created east-west "main street" that runs through the centre of the building, linking town and gown. It connects to the major amenities within the building including: the principal hall, the digital fabrication laboratory, IT services, the Eberhard Zeidler Library, the Café, the student lounges, and the Office of the Registrar and Student Services. The undulating edges of the Commons are lined with lockers for our undergraduate students and informal meeting niches conductive to student life and community.

Paul Oberman Belvedere

To honour and reinvent the crescent’s original purpose as a grand prospect to the lake, the Daniels Building at One Spadina will feature a large, raised terrace: the Paul Oberman Belvedere. Named after Paul Oberman, a Toronto real estate developer with a visionary commitment to heritage preservation and city building, the Belvedere will be a gathering and event space for the University community and visiting public and part of a grand entrance sequence into historic building and the Principal Hall for large events.

Model Cities Theatre and Laboratory

The new Model Cities Theatre and Lab, to be located in a future pavillion on the north side of the site, will draw on comparative data and insights from the GCIF for use in conjunction with emerging 3D and other visualization techniques in order to test and project new ideas in urban design. The theatre and lab will facilitate research on designing cities holistically, and offer a public forum for creating new decision frameworks, design options, policy alternatives, and industry solutions.

Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory

Established in 2010, the Green Roof Innovation Testing Lab (GRIT) is a state-of-the-art facility for testing the environmental performance of green roofs, green walls and solar photovoltaic technologies in the Canadian context. GRIT lab researchers will gain additional testing sites in a more prominent location at One Spadina. The GRIT Lab’s current site at 230 College — which contains 33 green roof test beds, three green walls, a weather station, and 270 sensors that collect data — will remain intact.

History of One Spadina

Originally built as a green parterre and prospect to the lake, in 1875 One Spadina became the first site of Knox College, a Presbyterian theological school, built in a pious and ornamental neo-Gothic style with a roofline punctuated with attenuated spires, peaks, and points.

After Knox relocated, the building was subsequently remade to serve various uses, most notably as a military hospital and museum during the first world war (where Amelia Earhart worked for a time), and then, in the 1940’s, as the Connaught Laboratories, where, following the invention of insulin at the University of Toronto, medical research and the manufacturing of insulin occurred within the building. U of T sold Connaught Laboratories in 1972 and acquired the site for other uses. Unfortunately, U of T’s acquisition occurred while the fate of Spadina Avenue was in question due to the massive Spadina Expressway project.

While the expressway was ultimately defeated in a very public fight, this and other decisions rendered this site and most U of T’s western flank on Spadina backwater. One Spadina slowly fell into disrepair, housing a mishmash of university functions, including: an eye bank; the student newspaper office; the campus parking office; and, in its yard, campus recycling. Perhaps because of its sombre and dilapidated appearance, what has sometimes been referred to as its ‘haunted’ past, the true distinction of One Spadina has been either unknown or misunderstood by Torontonians and visitors to the city.

One Spadina stands a testament to critical moments in Toronto’s history: its colonization by entrepreneurial Anglo-Saxons, the flow of many generations of the city’s immigrants to neighborhoods along Spadina Avenue, Canada’s role in the war effort, Toronto and U of T’s role in pioneering medical research, and the city’s success in thwarting the kinds of urban renewal that ruined many cities in North America. One Spadina was once a green prospect, a religious cloister, medical laboratories, and now, is school devoted to the kinds of creative industries that are today making Toronto an internationally recognized capital of commerce culture.

What people are saying about One Spadina

“[One Spadina is] a rare approach towards bringing a heritage building back to life through new construction, one respectful of the existing structure, while introducing new spatial qualities to the entire ensemble.” — 2014 Holcim Award jury

“The University of Toronto, NADAAA, and ERA Architects Inc. are to be commended for achieving something that is very difficult: designing a bold, modern addition to a landmark heritage building with subtlety and elegance.” —2014 City of Toronto City Planning Division Staff report to the Preservation Board

“[The Daniels Faculty is] going to bring the building back to life and, with it, the corner of Spadina and College. This is good news not just for the students, but for the whole city. [When it is complete] it will be the best reason yet to come to the corner of Spadina and College.” — Christopher Hume, Toronto Star

"Yet it is already spectacular – one of the best buildings in Canada of the past decade, rich with arguments about how contemporary architecture, landscape and urbanism can work with history and build the city of the future." — Alex Bozikovic, Globe and Mail

"The Daniels Building, with its myriad moments of architectural delight, offers a fitting home for future generation of Toronto designers." — Peter Sealy, Abitare

"I can not believe how they have melded the old and the new so wonderfully. What a fitting place for a school of architecture." — Kevin Frankish, Breakfast Television

"A feat of form-making, site planning, and city building." — Ken Greenberg, Canadian Architect

"An architecture school lives on the belief that good buildings make a difference, both to the people that inhabit them and the city that surrounds them. The Daniels building proves it in style." — Marcus Gee, Globe and Mail

"This is a great example of how old and new can be seamlessly integrated. The addition improves on the experiential quality of the historic structure and makes it one of the most sustainable buildings on campus." — Pratik Raval, Associate Director, Transsolar

"The building takes inspiration from bioclimatic principles and capitalizes with orientation and daylighting." — 2019 AIA COTE Awards Jury Statement