By Christopher Hume
As long as you don’t mention tuition fees, university campuses everywhere are starting to lighten up.
Glass-filled pavilions are replacing Gothic arches carved in stone and red-brick Romanesque towers. From solidity to invisibility, opacity to transparency, the new architecture of higher education reveals all.
A sort of reversal is unfolding; architects who once designed structures that embodied the (sometimes uncomfortable) nobility of scholarship now devote themselves to setting a stage on which students direct their own learning in their own way.
The most recent example, and one of the best, is Renée Daoust’s Centre of Excellence at Glendon College. In her first Toronto project, the highly regarded Montreal architect happily turns the structures of academia inside out. The cloister has been replaced by openness.
There’s nothing new about glass cubes — Toronto is awash in see-through towers — but Daoust’s is one of special elegance. Sitting just inside the main entrance to the campus at Lawrence and Bayview, the centre is the first thing visitors and students see. For that reason, transparency also serves as a kind of welcoming gesture, a way of demystifying the institution and revealing it, symbolically at least, to the rest of the world. READ MORE >>