Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular
The University of Toronto
160 College Street
Architects with architectsAlliance 2005
Building was built for the University of Toronto to support top-level
interdisciplinary research in bioengineering and disease. With a site on the
downtown St. George Campus that was formerly a lane, the architects were
challenged to accommodate the program of the building while providing
linkages to three adjacent buildings. The building was funded by various
levels of government, and private donors, with the key benefactor being
Terrence Donnelly, a retired lawyer and entrepreneur.
Set back from
the built edge of College Street, the CCBR is respectful of the 100 year old
Mining Building to the west, and the 80 year old FitzGerald Building to the
east. The building is pinched at the middle of its height, breaking the bulk
of the building while adding interest. A metal clad curving mechanical
penthouse tops the glass volume.
which is primarily clad with glass, shows distinct treatments of each
facade. The South facade that faces the forecourt off College Street is a
glass dual facade. This two layered transparent wall moderates solar gain
while buffering outdoor air, improving comfort for the offices it encloses.
The West facade features an assortment of fritted glass of varying opacity
and pattern. The East facade is distinguished by the playful addition of
brightly coloured glass panels, reminiscent of genetic chromatography
Inside, a key
element is a multi-storey atrium space that connects to the adjacent
Rosebrugh Building. This open space is planted densely with tall bamboo that
is top lit from the glass ceiling above.
On upper floors
a delightfully vertigo-inducing stair clings to the edge above the atrium,
connecting lab floors. On arrival, visitors are led up a generous stair
along the bamboo plantation to an upper level that is scattered with four
richly coloured curving rooms, three of them classrooms. Clad in brilliant
mosaic tiles, each treatment is distinct and provides a delightful material
and formal excitement to the interior . A number of brightly coloured
apertures in the ceiling reveal skylights that add interest and daylight to
the lobby space. At this level at the north end corridor connections to two
adjacent buildings are made.
In the upper
floors at the south face of the building a series of three storey
winter gardens provide a generous vegetated lounge space that connects the
different floors. Planted with a large tree and other plants, benches are
provided to provide a beautiful resting place.
building warm wood panelling, benches and accents balance the cool glass and
steel surfaces that dominate. The material palette is restrained, with
strategic flashes of more generous finishes.
The building is
impressive and inviting, the large forecourt facing College Street makes the
approach to the entrance processional, and the building commands the space.
The choice to use the bamboo filled atrium to make the connection to the
adjacent hertiage building is brilliant: the resulting space is delightful
and unexpected in the context of institutional buildings. The organization
of the building is clear, and users are always near either a transparent
perimeter wall, or one of the key organizing elements in the plan, be it the
atrium, classrooms, or winter gardens.
How to visit
The CCBR is on
the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto, just west of University
Avenue on College Street.
By Subway: The
Yonge-University Subway line runs past the building to the east . Exit at
Queens Park Station and walk west on College Street. The buildng is on the
North side of College Street, just west of University Avenue.
From the east or west, visitors may take the College Street Car (known as
the 'TTC'), disembarking between McCaul Street and University Avenue.
The CCBR is
primarily a research facility and has limited access. Upper floors are
restricted to students and researchers. The public may access the lower