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  • The south-east corner of the building faces the main road through the northern part of UTSC
  • The transparent ground floor façade around the main arrival supports a fluid transition between exterior and interior
  • The irregular grid of the façade design directly mirrors the varying sizes of the interior classrooms
  • The campus landscape is extended into the UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2 like a green carpet that is rolled out beneath the building
  • The ground floor landscape of the UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2 combines a variety of public functions, meeting points and study zones
  • The ground floor landscape inhabits the roofs of the two large auditoria at basement level as sloping mounds, embedded seating, and planting beds to create a naturally terraced base
  • The sloping interior learning landscape connects classrooms across building levels
  • The UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2’s sloping interior learning landscape combines open areas for social activities and intimate zones for meetings or group studies
  • A large, sloping set of platforms and bleacher seating in the central learning landscape provide areas for informal meetings and group study outside of class
  • The Collaboratorium classroom layout consists of tiered niches that accommodate up to six people around a table
  • The UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2’s Keystone is a tiered horseshoe classroom with a warm, wooden interior
  • Green courtyards on the fifth floor of the UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2 optimize daylight conditions and provide outdoor spaces for the upper levels
  • YEAR: 2019-2024

The new student-centred Sam Ibrahim Building – initially called UTSC Instructional Centre Phase 2 (IC-2)) – is centrally located on the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC). The building is designed to form a cross-disciplinary learning landscape that extends outside of the classroom to naturally blend study, collaboration, and social areas with the surrounding campus.

The core idea is to design a learning environment that encourages students to actively take part in a continuous exchange with instructors and fellow students and to engage themselves in social relations. The building design supports activity-based, socially engaging and peer-to-peer learning through an interweaving arrangement of classrooms, student service facilities and open public spaces. The architecture contributes to promote learning as a shared, immersive experience instead of an individual endeavour, thereby increasing the learning outcome, fostering a sense of community, and reducing drop-outs due to isolation.

We have designed each of the 21 classrooms as a distinct setting for learning with a unique atmosphere to accommodate specific learning needs. Together, they form a compilation of diverse spatial qualities, which create a sensorially stimulating learning environment and provide faculty with a specialised set of tools for organizing different learning situations.

A three-dimensional printer’s tray
The design envisions the Sam Ibrahim Building’s ground floor as a 360° campus “living room” that merges with the surrounding public realm. Inspired by the Highland Creek ravine that weaves through the campus, the landscape is extended indoors as sloping mounds, embedded seating, and planting beds to create a natural terraced base. A carpet of open and engaging campus spaces that is rolled out beneath the building, extending upwards across the five stories as a coherent educational landscape to be inhabited by the campus community. From here, students have access to the 21 technology-enabled classrooms, ranging from a 500-seat auditorium to smaller 24-seat collaborative learning spaces. The complex arrangement of rooms and open spaces forms a three-dimensional composition, like the compartments of a 19th century printer’s tray.

The tray’s compartments also define the building exterior, where the facades mirror the diverse hierarchy of rooms and stimulating educational environments within. The facades exhibit the interior activities and make the diversity of learning situations visible from outside so that both the external and internal elevations become a backdrop of memorable atmospheres and diverse spatial settings for students. The mosaic of the printer’s tray communicates the vibrant life of the Sam Ibrahim Building, making it a central beacon for UTSC’s northern campus.

The university building is named after Scarborough-based entrepreneur Sam Ibrahim. The President at Arrow Group of Companies has invested $25 million in a transformative partnership with the UTSC, which has established the Sam Ibrahim Building and the Sam Ibrahim Centre for Inclusive Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership.

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Canadian Architect
The University of Toronto Scarborough

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