Stunning Bergeron Centre a sign of big changes at York
York University's campus has a terrible reputation. The polar opposite of the well-aged, integrated and stately campus at U of T, when York was initially laid out back in the late 1960s, it was a sprawled out mess of Brutalist buildings and anonymous colleges like Vanier, Founders, and Stong (to mention only a few).
But is this stubborn image of the campus still accurate? It certainly was 15 years ago when I was first a student there. Back then Vari Hall and the recently completely Computer Science and Engineering Building were the nicest structures at York by a good margin.
Now, with the completion of a new home for engineering at York -- one that's just a stunning bit of architecture -- it might be time to reevaluate the bad rep that the Keele campus has been weighed down by since it opened. There has been tremendous intensification at York over the last decade or so. It's hardly recognizable as the same place where I studied.
Designed by ZAS Architects, the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence would certainly attract more acclaim if it was located downtown like Ryerson's recently opened Student Learning Centre. It's certainly on par architecturally, and one might argue that it's an even more impressive structure.
As Urban Toronto notes, it's nicknamed "the Cloud" for its rounded appearance. But the interior space is rather stunning as well, featuring loads of open layout learning spaces. Sure, it's a bit minimalist in areas, but one gets the sense that this building will age very well.
While the Bergeron is surely the nicest of York's new crop of buildings, one should also note that places like the Life Sciences Building, the Schulich School of Business, The Archives of Ontario, and the Accolade buildings have completely revamped the place in the span of less than a decade.
And not to be forgotten in all this is perhaps the most exciting pending addition to York's campus of all: the arrival of the subway. The Spadina Extension isn't due to open for another two years, but the stations are already starting to take shape, which must be a most welcome development for faculty and first year students who will still be enrolled when it opens.
So next time that you're inclined to turn your nose up at York's current campus, take a peek at the photo above (circa the late 1960s) and think about how radical the improvement has been since someone decided to plop a university down on this suburban plot of land.
Photos via ZAS Architects, the TTC, and York University Archives.
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