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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 7 page 11

local scene

Reclaiming an urban island:
it takes a lot of woonerf

by Ian Allaby

At long last the University of Toronto is fixing Spadina Circle, where old Knox College is being revamped and a new north-end addition will cover the work yard cum parking lot that has blighted the Circle since practically forever. The entire complex, scheduled for completion next year, will house the faculty of architecture, landscape, and urban design, which will not be heartbroken to abandon its miserable brick box at 230 College Street.

The complex will be known as the Daniels Building, in gratitude for hefty donations from John Daniels, a U of T architecture alumnus (1950) who went on to become a large-scale developer with a hand in, for example, Erin Mills and Bell Lightbox. The designer is Boston’s Nader Terhani with Katie Faulkner indicated as collaborator.

Aerial foto of Spadina Crescent
Spadina Crescent, north at top

Based on the bumf, the faculty and the architects expect the school to be an avant garde hive where students cook up designs that promote health, save the environment, and eradicate poverty. That’s something to look forward to, but what interests me at the moment is the part where they say they intend to re-integrate Spadina Circle back into the city.

The Daniels school will attract up to a thousand students, plus whatever free-floating intelligentsia flock to its public forums and other events. But popularity could be risky in the sense that we’re talking here about a school on an island in the middle of a major traffic artery. As matters stand now, anyone footing it over to the island could easily get flattened.

Let’s back up a little. How did this property get dis-integrated from the city in the first place?