doublespace photography, Courtesy of Kohn Shnier Architects
    doublespace photography, Courtesy of Kohn Shnier Architects
doublespace photography, Courtesy of Kohn Shnier Architects
doublespace photography, Courtesy of Kohn Shnier Architects

Building Tour: University College Revitalization

Join us for the relaunch of the TSA Building Tours program with a visit to the recently completed, award-winning revitalization of UofT’s historic University College!

After a long hiatus we are excited to announce the return of our popular building tours program, and we are starting the season with a bang with a behind-the-scenes tour of the recently completed, award-winning revitalization of the University of Toronto’s iconic University College.

Led by Kohn Shnier + ERA, Architects in Association, this strategic and surgical revitalization balanced many mandates including historical preservation, building systems and program modernization, and universal accessibility within a time-honoured heritage structure. Key to this revitalization is the re-introduction of the library back into the Great Halls it once occupied. The resulting design has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Ontario Library Association’s 2021 Library Architectural and Design Transformation Award and the OAA’s Design Excellence Award.


Tour Guides

John Shnier, Partner, Kohn Shnier Architects

Graeme Stewart, Principal, ERA Architects


Masking Required: Please note that in compliance with the University of Toronto’s policies, all attendees to this event will be required to wear a mask in all indoor spaces.

TSA Member Priority Access: This tour is free for TSA members using the promo code found in the latest bulletin. TSA members also receive early access to tickets on June 15 at 9:00 AM. Spots remaining will then be made available to the public on June 28 at 9:00 AM. Not a member yet? You can join the TSA and get access to free and exclusive member programming and discounts by registering online using this link.


Project Description

“Our approach to this project was driven from the outset by a significant respect for the historic building and a reverence for the spaces within. University College is a significant building within the legacy of U of T, but also an exceptional piece of Ontario’s history and the history of higher education in Canada,”


Kohn Shnier Architects

This project is the strategic and surgical revitalization of University College—an iconic landmark and one of the oldest buildings at the University of Toronto. The keystone of the project is the re-introduction of the University College Library into the two historic Great Halls located on the second level of the building, where the library had originally existed prior to the fire of 1890. This was a project with many design mandates, but most significantly, the design addresses the building’s history as inaccessible. The project dismantles the legacy of physical barriers by celebrating the architectural insertions that achieve it.

This was a project with many design mandates. Supporting the main space of the Library are a new reading room, a conferencing centre, rejuvenated classrooms, student writing centre, and a new café. Of course, serving all the above, was the challenge to integrate new IT, lighting, A/V, and mechanical systems within a century-old building without it imposing itself on the beloved heritage spaces and 19th century architectural details. Perhaps most important, all of this had to be seamlessly and elegantly integrated into a design that created universal accessibility to a building that was historically very challenging to navigate


Project Team

Kohn Shnier + ERA, Architects Inc. in association


About the TSA Building Tours

Designed for architects by architects, the TSA Building Tours offer unique behind-the-scenes access to recently completed or under construction buildings across the GTA. Led by the team behind their design, these tours provide an opportunity to hear the stories behind the architecture and learn about the challenges and successes in ideating and realising the vision for the building.

Thank You!

TSA Building Tours are made possible thanks to the generous support of STEIN + REGENCY.



Get Tickets

When 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Duration 1.5 hours

Meeting Place Front steps of University College, 15 King's College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H7

Cost $15+HST General Admission, Free early-bird TSA members using the discount code found in our most recent e-bulletin!