York University, Canada’s third-largest university, opened a second student center on campus, designed to respond to the changing needs of York’s large and diverse community. Knowing college students across North America face serious challenges related to loneliness, wellness, mental health, self-confidence and more – the building is designed to alleviate these challenges, openly attack stigma, and welcomes students of all faith, race and creed. There is arguably no other campus building so uniquely organized to ensure inclusion.
▼学生中心鸟瞰图，bird-eye’s view of the student center ©Tom Arban
▼学生中心位于约克大学主校园绿地的北端，the student center is located at the north end of a significant campus green
Located at the north end of a significant campus green, the building’s central location on York’s campus makes it easily accessible to the 50,000 students. The design includes an array of sustainable and user-led initiatives including bicycle parking, showers, green roofs, high-performance glazing/curtain wall, gender-neutral washrooms, and extensive use of natural lighting. A primarily transparent building façade acts as a design response to the student body’s desire to be open and welcoming to all.
▼学生中心外观，采用通透的玻璃立面，exterior view of the student center with transparent glazing facade ©Lisa Logan
“We believe we’ve created a building where every student can feel welcome, safe, motivated and connected to their peers,” explains Siva Vimalachandran, Executive Director of York University Student Center.
▼学生中心外观，exterior view of the student center ©Tom Arban
▼学生中心外观局部，partial exterior view of the student center ©Tom Arban
▼学生中心外立面上的木制百叶细节，details of the wooden shutters on the facade ©Tom Arban
“This project excels at creating a campus destination where all students can feel welcome, safe, engaged and motivated to excel,” said Brad Lukanic, CEO of CannonDesign and a member of the York U Student Centre project team. “York University made an inclusive design part of this project’s mission from day one. The Second Student Centre stands as a paragon of how design can make measurable positive differences in both campus culture and students’ lives.”
▼学生中心室内，玻璃立面不仅确保了自然采光，更将室外景色引入室内，interior view of the student center, glazing facade introduces the natural light and outdoor landscape ©Tom Arban
▼学生中心室内中庭，interior atrium of the student center ©Tom Arban
▼学生中心楼梯，the stairs ©Tom Arban
▼首层的舞蹈工作室，the dance studio on the ground floor
▼学生中心的交流空间，the communication space of the student center ©Connie Tsang
The building is conceived as a “living room” for student life that is broadly embraced by the campus community. Designed in complete collaboration with it houses numerous dynamic features to promote student success and inclusivity including:
1. The top floor offers a large multi-faith prayer space where students of all religions are welcome to hold service and pray. The space is used regularly by all faiths without conflict and has even served as a recruitment tool for students of faith.
2. A food pantry in the lower level of the building serves students facing food insecurity.
3. A wellness clinic in the building is open to all students who may need someone to talk to, self-harm reduction tools and training, quiet time, mental health counselling recommendations and more. Moreover, feminine hygiene products are available for free in all of the centre’s bathrooms.
4. A bustling club space connects students from all different student clubs. Just some of the clubs include Hallyu Dongari, the Middle Eastern Student Organization and the Latin American club.
5. The building is a hub for student activity, hosting movie nights, socials and Multicultural Week which features international dance and food competitions annually.
6. The building offers dedicated dance studios on the ground floor and open space throughout. It is not uncommon to see different international dances practiced steps from the multi-faith prayer space on any given day.
7. Rooted in safety design principles that embrace natural light, maximized sightlines and more, the building is designed so nobody should feel unsafe anywhere in the building.
▼下层的食品室，the food pantry on the lower level
▼学生中心室内，interior view of the student center ©Connie Tsang
The Student Centre is also deeply responsive to York student needs and feedback. The project is the result of a 2013 referendum in which 90% of students voted in favor of a second campus building devoted solely to student space. The referendum secured the highest voter turnout in the history of Canadian post-secondary institutions.
▼学生中心夜景，night view of the student center ©Tom Arban
“The Student Centre has always been dedicated to the diverse York University student body that uses it each day. I don’t know of any other project that infused the breadth and depth of student engagement we undertook in the Centre’s design process,” added Vimalachandran. “We asked, we listened, and we understood our students in order to translate their hopes and needs into a building that can make valuable impacts on their experiences for generations.”
Project Name: York University Student Centre
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Size: 126,000 SF
Architecture Firm: CannonDesign
Photographers: Tom Arban, Connie Tsang, Lisa Logan