The future of city building will require a great deal of attention to be paid to adaptive reuse. This project, which combines a strong sustainable agenda with a beautiful architectural narrative, sets an important precedent. The expression of the passive ventilation system makes a sculptural addition to the historic structure, while inside, students have the opportunity to track real time energy performance on a digital dashboard.
Sited within the previously unused attic space of the historically designated 1904 Mining Building on the University of Toronto’s Downtown campus, the addition accommodates 100 undergraduate engineering and 24 graduate students. Working with the profile and structural bay system of the existing building was critical to the success of integrating the new space and HVAC systems. The spacing of the bay system accommodates studio groups of 10 students each.
Energy modelling studies revealed that the Centre was an ‘internal load’ driven building due to high occupant density, ventilation and equipment loads. This pointed to the suitability of displacement ventilation and thermal stratification as an approach that integrated architectural and environmental systems.
At the upper level, thermal buffer zones are organized to the south and west sides of the rooftop addition. To the south, this buffer zone also functions as a passive solar ventilation chimney, reinforcing displacement ventilation systems at the studio level.
Effective daylighting is achieved by a series of skylights outfitted with specialized light-diffusing material that eliminates glare and promotes uniform light distribution. Daylighting simulations were conducted to optimize skylight size and distribution. Larger areas of glazing are provided in the rooftop classroom to compensate for the lack of views in the attic level studio, and to capitalize on urban vistas. Across the north façade, eye-level glazing enables views to the campus, while translucent insulated spandrel panels using R20 ‘aerogel’ are used to enhance daylighting conditions and thermal performance.
Automated “smart blinds” control solar gain.Significant constraints exist when optimizing energy performance of traditional load-bearing masonry structures, which rely upon the transference of heat outward through the masonry to reduce the freeze-thaw cycles and consequent deterioration. “Superinsulating” on the inside can result in premature deterioration of the masonry, while exterior insulation is inappropriate for heritage buildings.
CLIENT University of Toronto
ARCHITECT Baird Sampson Neuert Architects Inc.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Blackwell Bowick Partnership Inc.
MECHANICAL/ ELECTRICAL ENGINEER Crossey Engineering Limited
GENERAL CONTRACTOR Urbacon
COMMISSIONING AGENT Hunter Facilities Management Inc.
SYSTEMS INTEGRATION Dr. Ted Kesik
LEED CONSULTANT BSN Architects
PHOTOS Terence Tourangeau
Fibreglass insulation by Owens Corning, and 25 mm layer of spray foam insulation on inner face of masonry wall. Low-formaldehyde particle board and interior finish plywood, Interface carpet tile, Forbo Marmoleum [linoleum] flooring, bamboo flooring by Nadurra. Low-VOC paint by Sherwin Williams .
Energy use intensity [Building & Process Energy] = 182 KWh/m²/yr
On site renewable energy = 30 KW
Energy cost savings relative to reference building under ASHRAE 90.1  = 58.24%
Reduction in potable water consumption relative to reference building = 38.9%
Regional materials [800km radius] by value = 37.5%
Recycled materials by value = 27.7%
Construction waste diversion = 91%