Jun 19, 2023

U of T Selects Architects for James and Louise Temerty Building

Students, Research, Education, Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Giving, Partnerships, Inclusion & Diversity
Decorative image
Erin Howe
Architect and design team members with Dean Trevor Young (second row, fourth from left), Heather Taylor, Facilities Management & Space Planning Exec. Director (front, third from left) and Lisa Robinson, Vice Dean, Strategy and Operations (front, centre).
By Erin Howe

An architect selection committee at the University of Toronto has appointed Diamond Schmitt and MVRDV to lead the design of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine’s new James and Louise Temerty Building. 

The selection follows an international, competitive request-for-proposal process to design the new building, which will replace the west wing of the Medical Sciences Building on King’s College Road and feature state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. 

“We're excited to work with a faculty utterly committed to excellence in training future generations of physicians, health professionals and researchers,” said Donald Schmitt, principal architect at Diamond Schmitt Architects. “It’s inspiring to contribute to spaces that will help lead to better health outcomes for people over time.” 

The project’s key elements include spaces for clinical education and collaborative, interdisciplinary research. Spaces that Schmitt describes as the building’s ‘connective tissues’ will also play an important role in encouraging faculty members, learners and staff to interact and share ideas.   

“Places where people have spontaneous opportunities to connect can become the lifeblood of the community,” Schmitt said. “The juxtaposition where various people and programs are placed and the relationships between can really make magic in a building.” 

A $100-million donation from James and Louise Temerty and the Temerty Foundation helped spearhead the project, announced as part of their transformational gift of $250-million, for which the Faculty was renamed in their honour in 2020. 

"We are so grateful for the Temertys' support of this vital building project," said Trevor Young, dean of Temerty Medicine. "The new James and Louise Temerty Building will equip our Faculty to meet the evolving needs of learners and researchers well into the future. Ultimately, it will be an essential tool in realizing our ambitious vision for Temerty Medicine: to be an unparalleled force for new knowledge, better health and equity." 

Photo of the Medical Sciences Building under construction in 1967.
University of Toronto Archives
Construction on the Medical Sciences Building in 1967.

The Medical Sciences Building is home to about half of Temerty Medicine’s space on campus and hasn’t been substantively updated since it was built in 1969. About two-thirds of the research space dates back to the facility’s original construction. 

An overarching goal is to ensure the new facility is welcoming and inclusive to all people. The team of architects will work with a focus on equity, diversity, accessibility, and inclusion. With expertise from Two Row Architect, decolonization will also be a key consideration in the design.  

“As part of the design conversation, we want to bring in an understanding of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing,” said David Dow, also a principal architect with Diamond Schmitt. “It will be important for us to open the lines of communication with Indigenous communities around the St. George campus to help inform how we think about how people orient themselves within the building and navigate this large and complex academic and research program.”  

The building will be designed using an integrated project delivery method, an approach that allows each party involved in the project to work together as a single team. By having all the contributors work together from the start, the team is better able to control costs, avoid duplicating efforts and identify challenges early. As well, each stakeholder shares the risks and rewards associated with the project.  

“This is an inclusive teamwork approach that promotes greater dialogue amongst the team members,” said Dow. “We will be working with Two Row Architect, and with an accessibility consultant called Level Playing Field as well as the engineers and trades, for example. All the parties will be present very early on and will have an equal voice at the table. This promotes a deeper consideration of the project goals, opportunities and constraints to realize a wonderful addition to the Faculty and the University campus.  

The project will also align with U of T’s Climate Positive plan, including the construction of a new district energy Nodal Plant, which will provide heating and cooling to the new building as well as others in the surrounding area. The Temerty Building will help the campus’ goal to become climate positive by 2050 through 10 per cent local renewable energy generation. 

Groundbreaking could happen as early as 2025 and will complement U of T's Landmark Project, which is slated for completion in Fall of 2023.  

“There should be a seamless integration between the community and the University. It’s important to us that the landscape of the urban realm is part of our projects and that there's no defined line between the community, the site and the building entrance,” said Vanessa Kassabian, director, MVRDV New York. 

“The James and Louise Temerty Building will promote openness and transparency and encourage social gathering, circulation and connection within the building and between the University and the surrounding city,” said Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV’s founding partner. “Our priority is to create experiential spaces that inspire and stimulate cross-collaboration, support inclusivity, and promote advanced research.”  

The James and Louise Temerty Building is slated to open in 2028.