A New Campus Landmark

by Deirdre Kelly

photography by Mike Ford

After more than five years of active collaboration between students and architects, the new four-storey Second Student Centre has opened at York University’s Keele Campus in time for the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

Designed by CannonDesign in consultation with students, the 126,000-square-foot, multi-use building represents the end point of a complex process that students initiated in 2013 with a university-wide referendum seeking approval for the construction of a second student centre.

Students also took responsibility for seeking funding for the new building with support from York University and the City of Toronto.

Featuring signature cantilevered upper floors, walls of windows, steel panels and brise-soleil applied to the exterior to reduce heat buildup and glare, it houses new meeting rooms, student club offices and lounge areas in addition to expanded study spaces. It also comes with a large, state-of-the-art catering kitchen to serve the event needs of the larger York community.

Up to 80 per cent of the new building is illuminated by natural light, creating a pleasant ambience while contributing to the building’s sustainable design. The predominantly glass structure allows for a seamless connection between inside and outside space, giving this social nucleus of campus life an airy and inviting feel. The addition of a green roof and permeable landscape surfaces are features qualifying the building for LEED Gold certification.

“This project is a perfect storm for the creation of design excellence, not just as a great piece of architecture, but because of the amazing collaboration from which it emerged,” says Andrew King, who served as the project’s lead designer. “This building puts the students first, and their identity at the centre of the University. It has been a privilege to help the students achieve this amazing vision.”

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