York University recently celebrated the grand opening of its new Student Centre, a facility focused on the mind, body and soul of its diverse student body. The building is the result of a 2013 referendum in which the student body voted in favor of building a new center devoted solely to student space. It was the largest referendum voter turnout for Canadian universities, and secured approximately 90 percent of students voting in favor.
The design process was entirely student-run, with team members from CannonDesign working closely with the York University Student Centre to ensure inclusivity and wellness were at the forefront of the facility design. Key elements include a multi-faith prayer space that takes an entire floor, gender-neutral washrooms, studio space, 36 club-meeting spaces and a convention center that can host up to 600 people.
“This project is a testament to strong progressive student leadership over the past many years. This was built for students, by students,” said Siva Vimalachandran, Director, Projects and Organizational Development for York University.
The facility also features sustainable and user-led initiatives, including bicycle parking, showers, green roofs, high-performance glazing/curtain walls, and extensive use of natural lighting to promote principles of community safety, accessibility and environmental sustainability. The use of glass on the building façade allows the facility to be open and welcoming to all.
“The goal for this project from the start was to create one of the most inclusive university buildings in the world,” said Farah Rahman, leader of CannonDesign’s Toronto office. “From the start of the project, students and the design team worked together to ensure the entire building reflected their values and identities. The completed open and inclusive building is a beautiful reflection of them.”