Daniels Building at One Spadina Crescent

Architects: NADAAA with Adamson Associates and ERA Architects

Owner: The University of Toronto/Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

Location: Toronto

Award of Design Excellence

The Daniels Faculty required a new working prototype of sustainability to accommodate a program for studio space, fabrication workshops, classrooms, offices, library, cafe, exhibition space, auditorium, and state of the art ‘urban theater.’ The design of this building presents a case where problems of pedagogy come face-to-face with a physical environment that is inhabited and tested daily by an audience of experts, critics, teachers, practitioners, and students, the very protagonists of the medium.  

It is perhaps one of the few occasions where the audience is engaging with the building and its authors at a higher level, making it an added challenge—and responsibility—to speak to architectural questions with a greater degree of nuance. The building, of course, includes all the necessary amenities of a contemporary architecture and design school, but what is different here is the sectional quality and interconnectedness of the spaces.

"Celebrates the response to a large and urban context." ~ Jury comment

Ascending on the east-west axis, a stair brings one onto an open bleacher space, which serves as a sectional bridge between the studio spaces on the third level and the flexible principal hall at the core of the building. The space functions as both a crit space and a break out space when classes are not in session. It also serves as an oculus to draw light into the core of the building. The graduate studio on the top floor has a signature roof that serves as a key architectural instrument: integrating day-lighting, hydrological control, and structural optimization. As a Firth-of-Forth spanning system, two trusses cantilever from the stair cores on the east-west axis, while holding up an added oculus in the center.

The master plan for this 19th-century site was developed through the analysis of anticipated use patterns and site ecology, with an eye toward re-positioning the southwest corner of the University of Toronto's campus on-axis with Lake Ontario and creating a new identity for the Faculty.

Additional information

Acoustics: Aercoustics Engineering Ltd

Building Envelope consultant: Entuitive Corporation

Construction Manager: Eastern Construction Company Ltd

Engineer - Civil: A. M. Candaras Associates, Inc.

Engineer - Electrical/Data/AV/Lighting design: Mulvey Banani International, Inc.

Engineer - Mechanical/Plumbing: The Mitchell Partnership

Engineer - Structural: Entuitive Corporation

Landscape Architect: Public Work

Hardware: Upper Canada Specialty Hardware, Ltd.

Select Furniture design and construction: Daniels Faculty


Michael A. Nieminen, FAIA, (2019 Chair), Kliment Halsband Architects, New York, NY

Meryati Johari Blackwell, AIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Jason Forney AIA, Bruner/Cott Architects, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Kim Tanzer, FAIA, Gainesville, Florida

JoAnn Hindmarsh Wilcox, AIA, Mahlum Architects, Seattle, WA

Image credits

Daniels Building at One Spadina-07 R

Nic Lehoux

Daniels Building at One Spadina-03 R

Nic Lehoux

Daniels Building at One Spadina-04 R

Nic Lehoux

Daniels Building at One Spadina-05 R

Nic Lehoux

Daniels Building at One Spadina-06 R

Nic Lehoux