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OCAD U continues reinvention of McCaul Street

Bortolotto Architects produced this preliminary design for OCADU's new Centre for Experiential Learning at 115 McCaul St.

Last week when OCAD University announced its new a $60-million Creative City Campus project, it was giving itself a lot more room to grow, with an 55,000 square feet of new space and a renewal of another 94,700 square feet of existing space.
But it was also furthering the transformation of the intersection of Dundas and McCaul streets—already home to two of pieces of iconic Toronto architecture, Frank Gehry’s redesigned Art Gallery of Ontario and OCAD U’s own Will Alsop-designed Sharp Centre for Design—and taking another step toward turning McCaul into a cultural corridor.
“There will be a real sense of continuity as one walks down McCaul from that gateway intersection. We are going to be revitalizing the George Reid House building, creating much better viewpoints to Grange Park, refurbishing the portico area and participating with the AGO on a thoroughfare from Grange Park to Butterfield Park and an upgrade of their park area as well as ours,” says OCAD U president Sarah Diamond. “We may also have the opportunity on McCaul Street to do some work with our neighbours to really beautify the street and create a dynamic entry point to the cultural community within the city of Toronto.”
The designs for renovations at 100 and 115 McCaul—the George Reid building and the new Centre for Experiential Learning in the Rosalie Sharp Pavillion, respectively—will have to take into account their proximity to two of Toronto’s most attention-grabbing buildings. OCAD U has decided to go ahead with the Bortolotto Architects design for 115 McCaul that would have a dramatic scrim wrapped around the building, peeling away at the corner to reveal what’s going on inside through a glass wall. The Diamond Schmitt Architects preliminary proposal for 100 McCaul, which is yet to be put out for an RFP, is less showy, as the building is below the famed Alsop building.
“I would say the Bortolotto is a powerful design intervention, really tasteful and absolutely considered in relation to the Sharp Centre and the AGO,” says Diamond. “Because we’re building out [at 100 McCaul], any architect doing that work will have to think really carefully to do something subtle enough and beautiful enough that doesn’t compete with what will be three iconic buildings—even though the Bortolotto is small, it will be gorgeous. It will require a lot of collaboration.”
The project at 115 McCaul is expected to be complete during the 2018-2019 school year; the 100 McCaul project in 2019-2020. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has invested $27 million in the project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sara Diamond
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