Since 1972, the main atrium of the William G. Davis building, known as the Meeting Place, has remained untouched. As of 2018, UTM embarked on a year-long revitalization of the Meeting Place. Construction is set to expand the William G. Davis building’s existing infrastructure to better accommodate the campus’ needs in regard to seating space and architectural design.

The construction seeks to double the seating capacity, make the main entryway more accessible, and expand food services to deliver healthy choices with options reflective of campus needs. The project has been completed under the supervision of Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

The new, renovated Meeting Place will have “an open, barrier-free, light-filled design, including skylights, sliding glass walls and new furniture”, as reported by a U of T media release. The project will also aim for LEED certification at the Silver level or better, featuring local materials, energy-efficient equipment, water-efficient fixtures and low maintenance native plantings. Renovation is expected to be finished by early 2019.

Construction of the new Meeting Place, coupled with the ongoing development of the New North building, highlight UTM’s rapid expansion across campus. The Medium spoke to UTM President Ulrich Krull regarding UTM’s future goals for growing campus infrastructure. Key discussion points included the continued restoration of the Meeting Place and the projected construction of a new science research facility.

“This is an exciting development for UTM,” explained Krull on the topic of adding a new research building on campus.

“UTM is investing in research at a level that is commensurate with that of a leading global institution. A new building focused on research will push UTM forward as a full contributor to the goals and aspirations of U of T, reflecting the university’s mission of being an internationally significant research university, with undergraduate, graduate and professional programs of high quality.”

Krull explained that the new building would also be the largest financial undertaking pursued by the university to date.

“This would be the largest capital project ever built by U of T on any of the three campuses.”

Krull went on to elucidate that several external reviews identified the urgent need for additional laboratory research space at UTM.

As part of the new research facility, a new therapeutics research wing known as the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry (CMC) is slated to open. According to a media release by the University of Toronto, the new space, totaling 7,134 net assignable square metres (15,552 gross square metres), “will complement UTM’s plans for accelerated faculty hiring and graduate student recruitment.”

The CMC alone is projected to grow to include approximately 130 graduate students, research associates and post-doctoral fellows by the 2022-23 academic year.

Other building occupants are projected to include the forensic sciences program and a high-performance computing data centre.

The new building will be funded by capital reserves, long-term borrowing, donations, and a contribution from the U of T Office of the Vice-President and Provost. It is expected to be complete by 2021. According to Krull, it will also match previous UTM construction project environmental-standards.

“The building will continue UTM’s tradition of environmental sustainability by attaining a Silver certification in the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] green building programme.”

Krull also touched on the university’s pursuit of growing its Mathematics and Computational Sciences department by exploring robotics.

“We are in the process of proposing a robotics laboratory building that would serve as a research home for a computer science cluster focused on machine learning,” Krull concluded. “More details will be provided as they are made available.”

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