The Graduate House of the University of Toronto is one of the architectural projects that provokes multiple discussions and separates the public opinion by its design. Though many architectural critics do not advocate the idea of this building (Rochon, 2000), there are architects who support the innovation and fresh ideas that served as the basis for construction of this residence (Kapelos, 2001). So, the public space and the place for students to live became a controversial issue due to its innovative approach used by Thom Mayne who applied a multi-storey method by shifting stories and creating a building out of different parts.
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The Graduate House
Design and the overall image of the Graduate House of the University of Toronto are closely related because the outer space and the effect created with the help of the inner residence contribute to the provocative yet scholarly-shaped image of the building. The facades are painted black with the help of black concrete. In addition, the metal constructions add some futuristic image to each façade and make it more autonomous with regard to the neighboring buildings. The overall geometry of the building resembles the Dessau Bauhaus designed by Walter Gropius in 1926. As the Bauhaus was also created as a set of separate buildings bound with a common idea and common purposes, it gave rise to controversial discussions in society as well though its significance for architecture and culture were later acknowledged.
The facades of the Graduate House seem to be encircled around the inner court yard that serves as a space that connects the design of the building and the public special area of the Spadina Avenue and Harbord Street. In this respect, the courtyard is the connection between eh building of the Graduate House and the public area. The form of the courtyard suggests a completely new world inside it defended from the outer space with the help of facades. Moreover, transparent corridors are open for eyes of those who stand in the courtyard. Though the facades are situated on different levels they divide the space of the entire neighborhood into parts by making some of them more advanced and putting others on the same level as the neighboring buildings.
Building as Residence
The impression of the building differs depending on the situation you choose. Thus, when one is outside, it seems that the building is the combination of contemporary arts, architecture, and irregular forms accelerated with the help of transparent corridors and metal structures. At the same time, the impression of the building changes as soon as one finds him/herself inside the building where extremely convenient rooms are created for students to accumulate their experience and propagate scholarly atmosphere. The huge metal arm directs the people toward the entrance which is situated at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Harbord Street.
The difference between the public and private spaces is huge and every person can notice it right after entering the courtyard which is a gasp of fresh air after a noisy street. Besides, the materials and colors of the facades contribute to the overall image of the innovative building whereas restrained colors and softer forms of the inner space reflect the opposition of the facades.
Surrounding in Urban Fabric
The plan of the building suggests innovative approach offered by the architects that designed this building. In other words, the level of the building is focused more on the space starting with the second storey because it would be inappropriate to locate the rooms on the first-storey level. The neighborhood includes residences and rooms for rent occupied by people who work there and who got used to this location. The urban fabric is the basis for this building; so, every façade contributes greatly to the overall impression created by black color and glazed corridors as well as perforated aluminum screen.
Though the university was created by other architects, it seems to echo the basic principles of education and innovation in the structure of the design. Though the metal arm is treated as a signature of the main architect and a symbol directing to the entrance of the building, it is also the main object which evokes controversy as it does not relate the building to the overall concept of the surrounding urban fabric.
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Though there can be found some reasons for not supporting the ideas reflected in the building of the Graduate House of the University of Toronto, it is a magnificent building with the main attributes of contemporary architectural style which provokes ideas and nourishes imagination. As curtain fall walls can be treated as the symbol of postmodernism, the glaze corridors and combination of metal and glass can be treated as the main characteristic of contemporary architecture. In other words, the difference between the outer and inner spaces suggests a number of creative decisions that can be made to adjust the inner space of the residence to the principles of the university and the surrounding urban fabric.
Kapelos, G. T. (2001). Learning experience. The Canadian Architect, 46 (11): 24-29.
Rochon, L. (2000). A work of art? The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: R.4.