OCAD U’s Creative City Campus

Preliminary sketch of Creative City Campus

Today, the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Reza Moridi announced a $27 million investment towards the revitalization and expansion of the core of the OCAD University campus. Our Creative City Campus project will add 55,000 square feet of new space, and renewal of another 94,700 square feet of existing space.

This is huge. This is the largest investment ever made in our 140-year history!

I already know what you’re asking: “What’s in it for me?”

While the Creative City Campus project is expected to be completed in the 2020/21 Academic year, there are components getting started immediately, starting with the shift of thesis space from 60 McCaul Street — where a condo development will be getting underway later this spring — to 115 McCaul Street, which will eventually become the Experiential Learning Centre.

Preliminary concept for the Experiential Learning Centre

Preliminary concept for the Experiential Learning Centre at 115 McCaul Street, part of the Creative City Campus project. Image: Bortolotto Architects

The Centre will alleviate the university’s overcrowded production spaces and strengthen our existing culture of innovation and community collaboration. This flexible, multi-use student complex will support production, events, collaboration and displays, as well as engagement with visiting artists and designers. The building will be a hub for student activity and experimentation, and will mark the gateway to OCAD University’s campus and Toronto’s hub for creativity and innovation.

Another area getting a big boost will be our library. The Art & Design Library for the Future will transform 22,000 square feet of existing space into new library space, connecting it to the our library’s current 9,274 square feet. The revitalized library will create a Special Collections Study Centre, further facilitating the studio-based and experiential, hands-on learning that is unique to OCAD U. The expanded facility will be a “library for the future,” featuring our highly specialized collections of art and design books, catalogues, periodicals and audio-visual resources, and dramatically adding digital collections and delivery capability. These changes will more than triple the library in size!

Our students have consistently expressed the need for more shared student spaces; indeed, you have identified it as the most critical institutional priority. The Creative City Campus project responds to this with the creation of The Grange Park Room, a 2,500 square foot dedicated Student Commons space that will significantly contribute to an enriched and relevant student experience. The Grange Park Room will comprise a central atrium and several complementary “pockets” throughout the building, which will incorporate evidence-based design principles to influence students’ creative potential.

Other pieces of the Creative City Campus project will address the expansion of studio space and updates to our fabrication technology. There will be refurbishments to the historic George Reid Wing (built in 1920), the creation of new collaborative learning spaces in the Sharp Centre for Design, expanded classroom and seminar spaces, and the creation of an Indigenous Visual Culture Centre, which will move into the main building at 100 McCaul Street, placing it at the heart of our campus expansion.

In the coming months, we’ll be issuing design consultant tenders through an RFP (Request for Proposals) process, and establishing a steering committee to initiate our stakeholder consultations (this includes you). Along the way, we’ll be appointing a variety of committees with student, faculty and neighbourhood community representatives to help guide and inform the process. All of this will contribute to an integrated project plan. Stay tuned for your opportunities to participate and give your input.