The QUAD Student Community (Phase I) at York University


North York, Ontario

Client : FCS Development Corporation

2019 CODA Awards (Collaboration of Design and Art) Winner - Education Category

2018 CCPPP Silver Award of Excellence in Public Private Partnerships
Canadian Council of Public Private Partnerships

Photography by Michael Muraz, Eden Robbins, ARK

Conceived as a geological outcropping, the project explores the topography of home. In contrast with the transient, fluid nature of student life, the architecture is an indelible black marker on the earth, declaring its immoveable, enduring presence. Unlike its academic neighbours, many of which hover above the earth capriciously - this project is anchored to the ground. Its orthogonal geometry, robust proportions and blackness express its weight, sinking into the site.

Accommodating 800+ students on the university's main campus challenges the commuter campus paradigm and significantly decreases automobile dependency. Building siting and density establish a sustainable transit-oriented compact infrastructure. Alternative transportation is actively supported by a robust walking/cycling infrastructure, weather-protected secure bicycle parking, bike wash and repair services. Being ecologically sensitive, native planting, permeable landscaping, on-site stormwater retention, local building materials and recycled content, and dark-sky friendly lighting were integrated. An energy-efficient building envelope minimizing consumption and maximizing daylighting was further informed by sun/wind studies to create positive microclimates and enhance year-round use.

Contrasting the massive built form, the rigorous aluminum facade geometry is eroded by artistic expression. Extending the boundaries of art and architecture, the project advances inscription techniques. An abstraction layered onto the substrate creates a public collision of known and unknown, rational and figurative, permanent and ephemeral. The building engages academia on a theoretical level - as blackboard, canvas, screen - addressing the unknowable nature of knowledge. Graphing the unknowable/incomplete onto the building mass speaks to the classical tradition of the 'non-finito' inviting the spectator to be an active participant in the building experience, both physically and intellectually.

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