Graduate House
The University of Toronto
60 Harbord Street
Ontario M5S 3L1

Morphosis with Teeple Architects 2000

Graduate House was built for the University of Toronto to provide residence accommodation for Graduate students on the downtown St. George Campus. Located on the corner of Harbord Street and Spadina Avenue, Graduate House serves as an anchor to the main west entrance to the campus. The eight-story residence encloses over 23,000 square meters of floor area, and accommodates 475 students  In addition to dormitory rooms, the ground floor has a cafe, convenience store, and amenity spaces. This building is the first in a line of a contemporary generation of prominent buildings in Toronto designed by famous foreign architects including Alsop, Benisch, Foster, Liebeskind, and Gehry.

The building creates a strong, bold street edge along Spadina Avenue, with a glass and steel 'bridge' thrusting halfway across Harbord Street to demand additional attention. Horizontal ribbing in the dark, gunmetal gray cladding frames both punches and ribbons of windows. Along Harbord Street, the facade is composed of a combination of metal screens, metal cladding, and stucco. To the east, a dual facade of intermittent strip windows, veiled by a perforated metal screen, characterizes the facade. 


Of particular interest is the 'bridge' above Harbord Street, dressed with the super graphics 'UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO', all of the letters are embossed on glass with frit, with the final 'O' figured in three dimensions.   Elsewhere on the campus, key entrances are treated as gateways, and the addition by Morphosis and Teeple Architects to the campus continues this tradition in a bold and modern way. 


The building is dominated by the bold Spadina Avenue facade, the dark precast concrete surface and deep relief creates a foreboding appearance.  A gap in the facade reveals a mundane courtyard around which the housing is wrapped. The south-facing Harbord Street Facade is similarly assertive, with its layered treatment of perforated sinusoidal aluminium and slipping planes.  While the site is rectangular, the architects chose to push potions of the Harbord Street facade subtly askew to create more space on the sidewalk and to add interest where planes are allowed to slip. This predominance of the skew in plan is seen elsewhere in each architect's work, and is a generator of order and interest.

The building is distinctive and very assertive in its context.  Once is left with the feeling that it is a bit mean for its rather ordinary surroundings.  Fortress-like, it invokes feelings of a high-class penitentiary, rather than supportive and innovative student housing. In a city known for its human-scaled streets and generous housing mix, the addition of Graduate House exhibits a distinct take on housing in the city. The building is, however, an interesting predecessor to some of the buildings that have followed from Morphosis; the super graphics, structural expression, and bold lines continue to characterize their work. Many of the same themes are similarly characterized in subsequent work by Teeple.




How to visit

Graduate House is located on the St. George Campus of the University of Toronto, on the east side of Spadina Avenue at Harbord Street. 

By subway: The Spadina Subway line runs past the building to the west. Exit at Bloor Station and walk south on Spadina Avenue. The building is on the North-east corner of Spadina Avenue and Harbord Street.

By streetcar: From the north or south, take the Spadina Street Car (known as the 'TTC'), disembarking at Harbord Street.

Graduate House is a private residence and has limited access. Ground level features are accessible, as is the courtyard. 

For further information please email



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