Ryerson University Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex

Architect: Perkins&Will

Owner: Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex

Location: Toronto, Ontario, CA

Project site: Previously developed land

Building program type(s): Education – College/University (campus level), Residential – Mid-Rise/High-Rise

A vertical campus

Conceived as a living and learning community, the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex (DCHSC) brings nearly 300,000 square feet of highly sustainable teaching, research, and living space to a tight urban site.

Ryerson University occupies one of Toronto’s densest and fastest growing neighborhoods. While enrollment has increased by 50% since 2010, explosive private development has limited Ryerson’s opportunities to expand. The DCHSC responded to these challenges by proposing a new typology: a vertical campus that celebrates density, urbanity, and a radical mix of uses while exemplifying a holistic approach to health, inclusion, and sustainability in the downtown core.

Formally, the project reinvents Toronto’s prevailing podium-and-tower typology. Primary volumes are lifted and opened to create a continuous public realm extending from ground to roof. Expressed in vibrant orange, this route acts as the building’s connective tissue—offering new routes in and through; creating zones for circulation, interaction, and collaboration; and connecting occupants to daylight, views, and urban life.

Inside, four departments—the Schools of Nursing, Midwifery, Nutrition, and Occupational and Public Health—share space with technology-rich classrooms, a digital fabrication lab, research labs, university administration, and a 330-bed residence. Public functions, food services, and large classrooms occupy the first two levels, animating the street while enabling hourly turnover. A through-block interior street creates a new pedestrian route through the city, while the residence lobby and amenities sit atop the podium, opening onto a productive roof that acts as a sky-level “quad” and visual amenity for residents and neighboring towers.

An enhanced envelope, highly efficient building systems, cutting-edge accessibility, and a focus on healthy materials support ambitious performance targets, enhance occupant well-being, and reflect the mission of the resident faculty. At a larger scale, the building demonstrates the potential for innovative and creative approaches to highly sustainable urban intensification.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2015

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 289,00 sq ft

Number of stories: 28

Project climate zone: ASHRAE 6

Annual hours of operation: 8,760

Site area: 28, 234 sq ft

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $105,000,000

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 2,500,000

Project team

Associate Architect: Perkins&Will

Consultant Accessibility: Human Space Noise and Vibration: RWDI

Consultant Building Envelope: WSP

Consultant Code: Jensen Hughes

Consultant Commissioning: MMM Group; External Link; CES

Consultant Cost: Turner & Townsend

Engineer - Civil: MMM Group / WSP

Engineer - Electrical: Crossey

Engineer - Mechanical: MCW; External Link

Engineer - Structural: WSP

Engineering Transportation: MMM Group Environmental: SPL Consultants Ltd.

Furniture/Equipment Procurement: EPA Ltd.

General Contractor: Eastern Construction Company Ltd.

IT/AV/Security: Mulvey & Banani International  

Landscape Architect: DTAH Acoustics: Swallow / Thornton Tomasetti

Land Surveyor: Speight Van Nostrand

Municipal Planning Consultant: Gladki Planning Associates


Erica Cochran Hameen, Assoc. AIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Lynn Simon, FAIA, Google

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects

Michelle Amt, AIA, VMDO Architects

Renee Cheng, FAIA, University of Washington

Image credits

Ryerson University Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex-05 cropped

Tom Arban Photography

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Tom Arban Photography

Ryerson University Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex-16

Lisa Logan Photography

Ryerson University Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex-17 cropped

Tom Arban Photography

Ryerson University Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex-11 cropped

Tom Arban Photography

L shaped white building at dusk

Urban roof farm