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Exemplifying Adaptive Re-use and the Creative Re-purposing of Space

Humber College / School of Applied Technology and Campus Security Services Backfill Projects

  • Sector

    Higher Education

  • Location

    Toronto, Ontario

  • Client

    Humber College

  • Size

    60,000 sf/5,500 sm

  • Completion


Over time, academic buildings can lose their relevance and struggle to meet the demands of their growing student populations. Humber College faced this challenge at their North campus, which was originally designed in the 1970s, embarking on an intensive, two-year redevelopment initiative designed to better meet the growing needs. Architecture Counsel, in association with Montgomery Sisam, was engaged to repurpose 60,000 sq.ft. (5,500 sq.m.) of space at the School of Applied Technology and Campus Security Services.

Our scope of work included stakeholder consultations to create a functional space program, design brief, and concept design for the school’s renovations. All work had to be done within the context of a comprehensive backfill plan aimed at enhancing the campus experience from a functional and experiential perspective. The largest component was repurposing Humber’s main library to suit new administrative and faculty offices, as well as create collaborative group meeting spaces. Our design clustered several academic programs and created technology-driven spaces to inspire collaboration.

A design element that resonated for many was employing a democratic approach to space on the glazed perimeter of the building. Any rooms that were not able to function in an open environment, were located on the interior, where through the use of glass, they received borrowed natural light from the more common-oriented spaces. The common spaces were located on the perimeter and had direct access to windows.

The design team was also able to repurpose the wooden library shelves as accent wall cladding. Not only did this creative use of material bring visual interest and create the feeling of a warmer, richer environment, it saved the shelving from going to landfill.