The Science and Humanities Wings—also known as the Andrews Building—are the foundation of the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Designed by Australian-born, American-educated architect John Andrews—who later designed the CN Tower—Scarborough College, as it was originally known, was considered an innovative project that epitomized Canadian experimentation and large-scale cultural investment of the 1960s. Showcased in popular media, the structure was embraced by architecture critics and covered in magazines across the country and around the world—including a cover and four-page spread in Time magazine’s January 13, 1967 issue.
University of Toronto Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Architecture Larry Richards states in his 2009 book, University of Toronto, A Campus Guide, that the building is one of two iconic examples of Canadian modern architecture. Today the Andrews Building continues to draw architecture scholars, students and aficionados from around the world to UTSC.
The Andrews Building exemplifies the Modernist notion of connection with the environment, framed by woods and balanced above the ravine and river below. The Humanities Wing, which is oriented north south and the Science Wing, which is oriented west-east, form a stepped pyramid that emerges from a natural ridge.
The exterior has a rough, natural look, bearing the stamp of the wood forms for the poured-in-place concrete structure—the “béton brut,” or raw concrete for which its style is known. The exposed and textured concrete carries through the interiors that also feature careful detailing and durable natural materials, including floors paved in terra-cotta-coloured English quarry tile and wood-paneled feature walls that provide warmth and contrast.
Together the two wings read as a giant educational machine, generating knowledge. The building’s three boiler stacks (one is false) are suggestive of the Italian Futurist architect Antonio Sant’Elia’s 1914 drawings depicting his utopian vision for a technologically advanced New City (La Città Nuova).
In fact the building is laid out as an ideal city, with corridors as streets overlooked by interior balconies, and wide stairways and alcoves for spontaneous contact and gatherings. Natural light from skylights and broad windows reinforce the connection to outdoors no matter the weather. The atrium at the nexus of the wings, the four-story Meeting Place, is the essential and metaphoric town square, still today a central focal point of campus life and exchange that opens to an intimate garden at the ravine’s edge.
Since UTSC was established, award-winning architects have been hired to create its unique buildings.
Watch an excerpt from CBC’s documentary on the construction and opening of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus.
Rogers Television devoted an episode of its award-winning program Structures to the architectural and social history of UTSC. Watch episodes from this series on YouTube.