u of t harbord residence

The University of Toronto is about to build a breathtaking new student residence

The University of Toronto doesn't mess around when it comes to architecture, commissioning enduring landmarks in the styles of various eras throughout the institution's history, a tradition that continues today.

U of T calls on some of the biggest names in the architecture biz to design their buildings. Whether it's the restoration and enlargement of an aging landmark, building trapezoidal towers in the heart of the city, or even a student residence, Toronto's most prestigious educational institution has developed a reputation for out-of-the-box designs.

One of the next U of T landmarks is primed to be the quirkiest looking student residence in the city, a design from Los Angeles-based Michael Maltzan Architecture that will look like nothing else in Toronto, its masonry facades punctuated by randomized geometric patterns.

u of t harbord residence

Looking west along Harbord Street to the new Harbord Residence. Rendering by Michael Maltzan Architecture.

Known as Harbord Residence, the nine-storey building is planned on Harbord just east of Spadina, on a block currently occupied by boarded-up houses.

u of t harbord residence

Boarded-up homes occupy the location of the future Harbord Residence. Photo by Jack Landau.

The new building will act as an extension of the existing Graduate House to the west, also known for its unusual design. Above- and below-ground connections will allow the two to function as a complex, with students to share amenities of the conjoined buildings.

u of t harbord residence

The U of T Graduate House, with the location of the future Harbord Residence visible on the right. Photo by Jack Landau.

It's a design that's been evolving for years, initially tabled with city planners back in 2019 but in the works for much longer. The unconventional design has been refined over the years to reference the Huron-Sussex neighbourhood and the site's importance at a key western entrance to the St. George Campus.

u of t harbord residence

The new Harbord Residence will feature a unique geometric massing and finishes inspired by the neighbourhood. Rendering by Michael Maltzan Architecture.

The new residence building will meet Harbord Street with a three-storey base housing common areas like a dining facility, a food market and event space, lounges, study and meeting spaces, as well as roof terraces where students can enjoy some fresh air.

Above, the upper six floors would function primarily as private residential space for students and resident advisors, while also housing smaller common areas for Harbord Residence and Graduate House residents.

u of t harbord residence

Above- and below-ground connections will link the new Harbord Residence with the existing Graduate House to the west. Rendering by Michael Maltzan Architecture.

This design was reviewed by the university's Design Review Committee four times between Mar. 2019 and Feb. 2021, with student input collected along the way to shape the current iteration shown in a new capital project report released in late Feb. 2022.

Final approval is anticipated for April, with the demolition of the existing boarded-up homes and construction of the new building to begin right away. The Harbord Residence is expected to be complete in mid-2024.

Lead photo by

Michael Maltzan Architecture


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