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Located on a tightly constrained infill site next to Varsity Stadium on the downtown University of Toronto St George campus, the Goldring Centre is a 140,000 sq ft facility forming a new and vital hub for sports, research and therapy, serving both high performance varsity athletes and the wider campus community.

2016 – Society for College and University Planning Excellence in Architecture Honorable Mention
2015 – Canadian Consulting Engineering Award of Excellence
2015 – Athletic Business Facilities of Merit Award
2015 – Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence
2015 – Ontario Association of Architects Design Excellence Award

The core of the program is a pair of very large rooms: the Fieldhouse and the Strength and Conditioning Centre. The larger of these rooms is the Fieldhouse, which contains competition standard basketball and volleyball courts with seating for 2,000 spectators. The site is compact and the Fieldhouse is too large to fit within the permissible zoning envelope. The solution was to excavate and place the courts below grade, where they could occupy the full width of the site. To preserve the clear span required by the Fieldhouse, the Strength and Conditioning Centre and upper floors are suspended above from 180 ft long trusses. In overcoming the challenges posed by a constrained urban infill site, the project was rewarded with a singular public expression on the street: a heroic steel frame vaulting over a cavernous excavation.

At grade, the project builds on an existing net of small-scale pedestrian passages on campus. Through the north lobby an interior walk extends through the building from west to east connecting the existing landscape link between Woodsworth College and Woodsworth College Residence to Devonshire Place. On its western edge a new laneway between the project and Woodsworth College creates a quiet passage connecting the campus from Hoskin Ave in the south to Bloor Street. Trees are a mediating screen between the College and the Goldring Centre on the lower floors, continuing the campus language of linked, landscaped passages.

The project further proposes that Devonshire Place can be closed to vehicular traffic during major athletic and student events. Significant spaces within the Goldring Centre overlook both Varsity Stadium and events along Devonshire Place, constructing synergies between stadium, street and building. Overlook from the street to the basketball and volleyball courts in the Fieldhouse below connects events deep within the building to the street above. The street landscape is designed as a plaza to host large-scale events that support both important sports gatherings and special student activities.

The main entrance is located at the south end of the site, accessible from both Devonshire Place and the laneway to the west. The Fieldhouse ‘Sports Bowl’, dug 30 ft into the earth, is approached from the lobby above and surrounded by venue seating. During daily use the courts are overlooked by both street and lane, becoming part of the experience of campus life, a recognizable ‘place’ on campus. A linear gallery space off the entrance lobby provides for casual meetings or events and receptions, the gallery affording a fantastic overlook of Sports Bowl events below. During televised major events, motorized black-out blinds can block all daylight and overview.

Floating above, and open to Devonshire place behind frameless cable-net glazing, is the Strength and Conditioning Centre. This space is highly visible to the U of T campus and to the passing public on Bloor Street. It produces a distinctive sports identity fixing the precinct of Varsity Stadium and the Goldring Centre in the public imagination, day and night. The SCC starts with a flat platform for general exercise and conditioning programs and then steps down a series of interior terraces towards Varsity Stadium. Platform and terraces project visually out over Varsity Field, completing themselves in the city, and providing a commanding view of the stadium beyond. The diagonal of the terraces produces a kind of stadium seating overlooking the activities on the street and field below.

The project uses the campus and the space over Varsity Field as a form of borrowed landscape. Interior spaces complete themselves in exterior spaces, binding activities together, contributing to a coherent development of the campus as a whole. The bowl of competition courts opens at grade to passersby and daylight, and reduces by 10 ft the depth of excavation needed. The stepped tiers of the Strength and Conditioning Centre visually complete the raked seating of Varsity Stadium opposite, a direct connection between training and performance. The lobbies and public spaces connect to streets, lanes and passages, stitching this new addition into the fabric of the St George campus.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: 2009 – 2014
Client: University of Toronto
Area: 13,000 m2

Architect: Patkau Architects Inc. | MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects Ltd., Associated Architects
Project Team (Patkau Architects): John Patkau, Patricia Patkau with Shane O’Neill, Tyler Brown, James Eidse, Mike Green, Marc Holland, Dimitri Koubatis, Etienne Lemay, Thomas Schroeder, David Shone, Luke Stern, and Michael Thorpe

Structural: Blackwell Structural Engineers (formerly Blackwell Bowick
Partnership Ltd.)
Mechanical / Electrical: Smith + Andersen Engineering Ltd.
Civil: EMC Group Ltd.
Landscape: PLANT Architect Inc.
Arborist: Bruce Tree Expert Company Ltd.
Code: David Hine Engineering Inc.
Commissioning: CFMS Consultants Inc.
Compliance: BTY Group
Elevator: Ayling Consulting Services Inc.
Envelope: Brook Van Dalen & Associates Ltd.
Geotechnical: Terraprobe
Security: The Scheinman Group Inc.
Sustainability: Enermodal Engineering
Surveyor: Speight Van Nostrand & Gibson Ltd.
Traffic: BA Consulting Group Ltd.

Design-Builder: EllisDon Corporation

Photos: Tom Arban
Construction Photos: Patkau Architects
Aerial Photo: Oscar Flores