Celebrating a diverse student body
York University, Canada’s third-largest university, has built a second student center on campus, designed to respond to the changing needs of York’s large and diverse community. The project is the result of a 2013 referendum in which the student body voted in favor of a second building devoted solely to student space. The referendum secured the highest voter turnout in the history of Canadian post-secondary institutions, with approximately 90 percent of students voting in favor.
The programmatic aspirations of the building were to create a “living room” for student life that is broadly embraced by the campus community. It houses space to satisfy the most critical student needs: study, meeting, lounge, studio, club offices, assembly, and multi-faith prayer space. Designed in complete collaboration with York’s diverse student body, the building is one of the most inclusive university buildings in the world.
Located at the north end of a significant campus green, the building’s central location makes it easily accessible to the 50,000 students who attend classes on campus. The design includes an array of sustainable and user-led initiatives, including bicycle parking, showers, green roofs, high-performance glazing/curtain wall, gender-neutral washrooms, and extensive use of natural lighting to promote principles of community safety, accessibility and environmental sustainability. A primarily transparent building façade acts as a design response to the student body’s desire to be open and welcoming to all.
The modern, iconic four storey multi-purpose building that has been designed to overlook Roy McMurtry Green will undoubtedly become a campus landmark and lasting testament to the commitment and vision of today’s York University students.
– Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s Chief Planner, in a statement released by York University