UTM’s innovation centre shows the fine design line between good and great

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UTM’s innovation centre shows the fine design line between good and great
University of Toronto Mississauga’s new Innovation Centre cost $30-million to construct, and took only 21 months to go from conception to completion
UTM’s innovation centre shows the fine design line between good and great
University of Toronto Mississauga’s new Innovation Centre cost $30-million to construct, and took only 21 months to go from conception to completion

Big dreams, and then smaller ones. This has been the rhythm by which Canadian universities have been built over the past four decades, and you can read this history clearly on the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. It was first conceived in the sixties as a concrete megastructure, but it emerged as a collage of architectural visions, Brutalist concrete colliding with sleek stainless steel and townhouses that look trucked in from a nearby subdivision.

The latest addition, the Innovation Centre, announces itself with a flash: Its façade is wrapped in a screen of vertical aluminum fins painted a brilliant white. Move to one side, and the surface of the building begins to dissolve before your eyes. The smooth, powder-coated surfaces of the fins blend together into a rippling, shimmering cloud.

The designers, Moriyama & Teshima Architects, aimed for a balance between assertiveness and politesse, says Carol Phillips, an architect who led the design for MTA along with Daniel Teramura. “The campus has some really remarkable buildings with distinct claddings, and we really wanted to bring something that was neutral,” she explains. “We’re at a point where the campus needs some stitching together. It’s distinct, but it is also neutral.” []

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