Building Magazine


University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty celebrates 125 years

2015 marks the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the first architecture program at the University of Toronto — the first architecture program in Canada, and one of the first in North America. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of U of T’s program in landscape architecture.  

The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design — which also includes programs in urban design and visual art (with more to come) — is celebrating this historic milestone by reflecting on its incredibly rich history, including the evolution of its pedagogical approach, the impact of its research, and the substantial influence of its faculty and alumni.

“Over the years, the Daniels Faculty has leveraged its location in the heart of Toronto to bring together the city’s leading practitioners with internationally recognized designers, scholars, historians, theorists, and technologists to advance research and education,” says Professor Richard Sommer, who joined the Faculty as Dean in 2009 after 10 years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. “Our school has always fostered creative, multidisciplinary innovation, and I am extremely proud of the impact that our students, professors, and alumni have had in Toronto and beyond.”

The anniversary comes at a time when the Daniels Faculty is about to embark on a new chapter: next year it will move to a new home at One Spadina Crescent, where construction is now happening at a fast pace. The renewal of this iconic site represents the largest architecture school expansion ever undertaken in Canada.

“After more than a decade of transformation of our faculty and programs, and a landmark benefaction from John and Myrna Daniels, we are entering a new phase,” says Sommer. “With One Spadina, our goal is to create an architecture, city building, and arts district at the University of Toronto, and put design and visually-based thinking at U of T on par with traditional mathematics and text-based modes of scholarship.” 

The Daniels Faculty has always had strong connections to the life and character of Canada’s largest city. With its international population, changing urban fabric and dynamic professional community, Toronto has been both a laboratory and object of study for its professors and students who, in turn, have played important roles in its development. Daniels Faculty students, faculty, and alumni have literally shaped the city.  

Sugar Beach, Regent Park, Integral House, the Toronto Reference Library, Canada’s National Ballet School, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the West Toronto Railpath — these are just some of the communities, buildings, and parks designed by Daniels Faculty professors and alumni. Faculty and student research — on topics such as tower renewal, green roofs, 3D printing, visualization, and immersive design — has also played a significant role in the city, and internationally.

“Our incredibly rich history has left us with a strong base from which we can continue to push boundaries in research, design, and education,” says Sommer. “From the moment I arrived, I sensed that we had a unique opportunity to think big, and have the Daniels Faculty play a key role at the intersection of the city and one of the greatest universities in the world.” 

An exhibition chronicling the history of the Faculty will run from May 30 to mid-September in the Eric Arthur Gallery at 230 College Street. 

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