Humber College’s Robert A. Gordon Learning Centre involved the adaptive reuse of an abandoned psychiatric hospital — originally constructed in the late nineteenth century — into a contemporary campus for over 4000 students. It is the only large scale institution in Canada that has been successfully adapted to new use while retaining its historic significance.
THA acted as the prime consultant for all Master Planning, conservation and architectural works on this site, developed a new infrastructure and landscape, and integrated contemporary additions within an accessible historic landscape and building fabric.
Challenges that faced the THA team included restoration and reconstruction of eleven historic cottages and the transformation of 200,000 square feet of building interiors into electronic lecture halls, libraries, offices and food services areas for campus program use. In order to address building envelope restoration, THA collaborated with the National Research Council to develop techniques of stabilization that would fulfill the long-term reuse mandate.
The adaptive reuse of this historic place and the redevelopment of the landscape are significant demonstrations of conservation planning principles. A centerpiece of the contemporary design is the reinforcement of the west facing quadrangle form by a 1200-foot-long concourse and raised pedestrian walkway that effectively separates vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The effect of THA adaptive reuse of the Humber Lakeshore Campus is the creation of a campus of distinction and durability that will continue to evolve as an institute of higher learning in the twenty-first century. It has been used as an exemplar of contemporary design and historic conservation.