Ontario Construction News staff writer
Construction has started on the University of Toronto’s Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre on the north side of College Street just east of Queen’s Park Crescent.
Weiss/Manfredi Architects along with Teeple Architects have designed the project, supported by a recent $100 million gift by Onex founder and CEO Gerry Schwartz and Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman – the largest-ever donation in U of T’s history.
EllisDon is the project’s general contractor.
The demolition of the 1954 built Best Building (Banting and Best Complex), cleared the way for the new innovation centre, featuring paired 12 and 20 storey tapered trapezoidal connected towers.
The first phase western tower will be the shorter of the phases, rising 12 storeys and containing 250,000 sq. ft. of institutional space.
After the demolition of the former Best building’s basement in March, backfilling started to make way for heavy equipment, DataBid.com reported. The first drilling rig arrived on the site at the beginning of April when actual construction started. This initial stage consisted of boreholes drilled around the site’s perimeter into which steel I-beams were inserted. These will be the vertical supports for below-grade shoring walls that will hold the surrounding soil in place during excavation.
The building’s foundations and underground levels will then follow. The 12 storey, 250,000 sq. ft. first phase will house the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society and also the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence which will specialize in deep learning and machine learning research.
The complex will feature space for startups and fast-growing companies, vertical gardens, multiple atria, and collaborative spaces to serve the future of the rapidly-expanding local tech sector and the UofT’s innovation and entrepreneurship network
The second phase will include a 20-storey, 500,000 sq. ft. tower, resulting in a total of 750,000 sq. ft. of new institutional space, and will include laboratories and research space for innovators in regenerative medicine, genetics and precision medicine
Teeple Architects says the building cladding is an innovative design, with a variety of facade elements from other institutional buildings in the area, designed to assist in reaching the overall university goal to reduce energy use to 20 per cent or more below ASHRAE-2013. The overall sustainability target is equivalent to LEED Gold.
Strategies include radiant floor heating, solar PV, highly reduced lighting loads due to the excellent daylighting opportunities achieved through small floor plates, heat recovery and storm water capture and reuse.