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Sharp Centre for Design

Toronto, Canada
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Alsop's elevated "table top" extension to the Ontario College of Art and Design, with its striking black and white pixilated skin and 12 multi-colored legs, stands 26 meters above the mixed Victorian and modern streetscape. Raising the building above the ground created a new outdoor public space, Butterfield Park, and also improved pedestrian circulation in the area. The structure contains two stories of studio and teaching spaces that connects to the existing facility by a core of elevators and stairs.

Working process

Following the appointment to the project, Will Alsop instigated a series of client workshops in which early concepts were developed with college staff and students. During this time, conventional ideas of teaching, learning and architecture were explored as the group sought to redefine their new college of art and design. The participants of the workshops exchanged sketches and ideas that lead to the development of a basic strategy. These original ideas are embodied in the final scheme, a flying, translucent rectangle or 'table top' vividly patterned with a colourful pixellated skin, raised eight storeys from the ground and housing the new Faculty of Design.

The project unifies the existing brick structures beneath the 'table top', the park to the west and McCaul Street to the east. Views to the park are preserved for OCAD's neighbours across McCaul Street, who participated in the consultation process. The park will also benefit from the area's regeneration and, restored, will be the home to contemporary sculpture and school events.

Spaces

Programming works in collaboration with OCAD and Alsop have accommodated all the elements of a complex client group. In addition to the teaching and administrative spaces the project also incorporates gallery spaces, design and research centres, lounge and meeting rooms, specific craft and metalwork workshops and design critique spaces.