Trinity College's Proposed New Building

Trinity College Building on Tradition: Students on the Front Lawn of Campus

Monday, July 8, 2019  |  Trinity College’s New Building Architects

Trinity College's New Building to be Designed by Mecanoo Architecten in Partnership with RDHA

Trinity College has selected Mecanoo Architecten from the Netherlands in partnership with Toronto firm RDH Architects Inc. (RDHA) to design and build the College’s new student residence and academic building.

“We are thrilled to be working with Mecanoo and RDHA on the design and development of our new building. They have a deep understanding of what we aspire to and our core values of excellence, community and sustainability,” said Professor Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. “We want our campus be an inspiring and welcoming place to learn, live and work. This is an exciting opportunity to complement our beautiful, historic campus.”
The addition of new physical facilities is critical for the student experience at Trinity College. While the student population has grown over the past several decades, the infrastructure has not. The new building will respond to this challenge, providing much needed teaching, learning and common space. Moreover, the addition of urgently needed residence space will mean that more of Trinity College’s current students will be able to enjoy living and learning in a close community – the quintessential college experience that so many alumni cherish.
The design architect for the project is Mecanoo, led by Francine Houben. “A world-renowned architect, Francine is known for her site-specific work, her deep understanding of design and her attentiveness to how people inhabit space. As an advocate for the way architecture can support community and the needs of users, her approach aligns with the College’s ethos,” Provost Moran said.
“We are so pleased to be working with Trinity College to enhance their world-class campus. The new building will embody our shared values of placing people first to create a memorable and inspiring home for all members of the Trinity community,” said Francine Houben, Mecanoo Creative Director/Founding Partner.
The project architect will be RDHA, led by Bob Goyeche. “RDHA is extremely excited with this opportunity to assist Trinity College in the development of this once in a generation project for the College,” said Bob Goyeche, RDHA Managing Partner.
Mecanoo and RDHA are outstanding teams and both have successfully completed many projects relevant to Trinity College. Mecanoo is renowned for its inspirational educational architecture including many important libraries and university projects: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library; Key Worker Housing at the University of Cambridge; Library of Birmingham; and Erasmus University Student Housing in Rotterdam. Both Mecanoo and RDHA are experienced in blending historic and contemporary architecture: Mecanoo in work such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC, and the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston, which was awarded the 2016 BSA Harleston Parker Medal; and RDHA in the Hamilton Central Library & Farmers’ Market, the U of T Fitzgerald Building Revitalization (where RDHA is currently architect of record), and the Idea Exchange Old Post Office in Cambridge, Ontario, which received the 2019 AZ Award for Best in Architecture: Adaptive Re-Use.
Mecanoo’s architectural approach, which uses an integrated “live, play and work model” in all aspects of their design, resonates with the aspirations of Trinity College. They also strive to complement the aesthetics of existing buildings, and are leaders in integrating landscape architecture, incorporating sustainability into all aspects of the project, and building connectivity.
In selecting an architect, the College conducted a comprehensive two-stage selection process. Rather than a design competition, the College chose a qualifications-based search, focusing on breadth of relevant experience, design excellence, track record of successful collaborations, and the ability to solve the unique spatial, technical and programmatic challenges of Trinity College’s project. The College’s Architect Selection Advisory Committee unanimously chose Mecanoo and RDHA from a pool of excellent firms.
“It was so important to us that our new building be thoughtfully designed from the inside out in order to be as responsive as possible to the complex needs of our community and to our very special site. Now with our architects on board, the College can begin the design process in consultation with the community,” said Chancellor Bill Graham, chair of the Architect Selection Advisory Committee, noting how impressed they were with Mecanoo and RDHA.
“Trinity has always been about the significance of place and how critical it is to building community. Architecture has the power to bring our values to life,” Provost Moran said. “This is an incredibly exciting time as we imagine the evolution of our glorious campus.”
The proposed site for the new building will be centred on the current surface parking lot immediately north of the Gerald Larkin Building at 15 Devonshire Place. This is the first significant new building on the Trinity College campus in nearly 60 years.
Mecanoo Architecten is made up of a highly multidisciplinary staff of creative professionals from 25 countries. The team includes architects, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects and architectural technicians. Discovering unexpected solutions for the specifics of program and context is the foremost challenge in all of our assignments. Each design is considered in terms of its cultural setting, place and time. As such, Mecanoo treats each project as a unique design statement embedded within its context and orchestrated specifically for the people who use it. Preoccupied not by a focus on form, but on process, consultation, context, urban scale and integrated sustainable design strategies, the practice creates culturally significant buildings with a human touch. Mecanoo’s projects have received over 100 awards, including the Dutch Association of Architects (BNA) 2019 Award for Liveability & Social Cohesion, the 2014 RIBA National Award (UK), and the 2013 Amsterdam Architecture Prize. Francine Houben was awarded the 2018 BNA Kubus Award and the 2015 Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prize in recognition of her contribution to architecture.

RDH Architects Inc. (RDHA) is a Toronto-based studio specializing in architecture for the public realm. Founded in 1919, the firm has a wide-ranging body of work encompassing post-secondary education, libraries, recreation, industrial, office, transit and secure facility design. In the past ten years the firm has focused on producing intelligent, concept driven architecture of the highest caliber, and now feels and acts like an emerging design studio, while their 100-year legacy provides a solid backbone of technical and managerial experience. The studio has received over 50 provincial, national and international awards in the last decade – most notably three Governor General's Medals, the 2014 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Young Architect Award for design partner Tyler Sharp, and the 2018 RAIC Architectural Firm Award.
Founded in 1851, Trinity College is a small academic college with a long and illustrious history within the University of Toronto. Trinity College offers an exceptional academic experience and fosters community, responsibility and leadership. The College’s total student enrollment is approximately 2,000, consisting of undergraduate students from the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto and approximately 150 graduate students from the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College. Although the new building will house approximately 350 residence beds, Trinity College’s total student enrollment will not change. For more information, please read below. 

Monday, March 18, 2019 | Update on the Proposed New Trinity College Building

Dear Members of the Trinity Community:

Since my last update in February, we have been focused on various planning details for the proposed new Trinity College building. To that end, I’m pleased to report that we have submitted a Development Application to the City of Toronto in order to amend the current zoning permission for the project site, which is the current surface parking lot immediately north of the Gerald Larkin Building. 

Our Development Application for the new Student Residence & Academic Building includes a planning rationale report that outlines our approach and the parameters to develop our site, along with the results of technical studies, such as geotechnical, hydrogeological, shadow, wind, transportation, heritage and arborist reports. We have also included some illustrations of possible massings or demonstration projects in order to assist with determining the appropriate building envelope for the site. However, we do not yet have a building design.  

As you will be aware from my earlier message, we are in the midst of a two-step search process for an architectural team. Our selection process has been designed to identify an outstanding architectural team that aligns with our vision and our values. Once that team has been selected, they will be consulting with the Trinity community and working to understand how to best fulfill our needs on our beautiful site. Please stay tuned as consultations with the architect will be scheduled to start later this year. 

The goal of our new building is to be able to make the full collegiate experience available to more of our students, and to house our growing programs and services. We are not expanding our student body. But we are aiming to expand what we are able to do for the wonderful students that we have.

We are so excited for what’s to come in this next important chapter for our College. Please continue reading below to learn more about our early thinking for the types of spaces envisioned for the new building. If you have any comments, I would as always welcome your feedback. 

Mayo Moran
Provost and Vice-Chancellor

Wednesday, February 20, 2019Update on the Proposed New Student Residence & Academic Building

Dear Members of the Trinity Community: 

As you may know, over the last 18 months, we have been consulting with members of the community and others about the possibility of adding a new building to the Trinity campus. This new building would serve a number of important purposes including the creation of much-needed student residences, the addition of teaching and learning spaces, and more generous spaces for the Trinity community to engage, study and interact.

The project will be guided through governance and other processes by our Building Project Steering Committee and its subcommittee, the Architect Selection Advisory Committee. The volunteer committees are comprised mostly of Trinity alumni who have expertise in development projects, financing, construction law and architecture, and we are thrilled to have each of them onboard. In the coming months, with committee guidance, we will conduct a thorough search for the right architectural firm to help us with visioning and space planning for our new proposed Residence & Academic Building. This will be a two-step process, beginning with a Request for an Expression of Interest. We will also be submitting to the City of Toronto an application to amend the current zoning permission for the project site (the surface parking lot immediately north of the Gerald Larkin Building).

We are still very early in the planning process and we do not know what the building will look like – design conversations will likely commence later this year. It is also important for members of the community to be aware that our total student enrollment will not change. One of the main reasons for a new building is to ensure that more of our wonderful Trinity students have the opportunity to get the full collegiate living-learning experience that our College is known for and which so many of our alumni cherish.

This is an exciting time as we imagine the evolution of our beautiful historic campus. Please stay tuned for further updates in the coming months. As always, I welcome any feedback that you may have.

Mayo Moran
Provost and Vice-Chancellor

The Importance of Place at Trinity: Help Us Envision Our Future Campus

Friday, November 23, 2018 | New Building and Student Services Centre Info & Feedback Sessions for Students

Trinity College students are invited to attend one of our scheduled information sessions on two significant new infrastructure projects underway at the College: planning for a new building and the new Student Services Centre in the main hall. These projects will transform the student experience at Trinity and student input is integral to ensuring we plan properly.

Tuesday, November 27, 12 noon to 1:30 pm, Combination Room (directions below)
Wednesday, November 28, 4 pm to 5:30 pm, Combintation Room

Provost Moran will begin each session with an overview on the new building. Assistant Provost Jonathan Steels will talk about input received to date, as well as next steps in the planning and design. Finally, Nelson De Melo, Registrar and Director of Student Services, will provide an overview of the plans to date for the new Student Services Centre and when we expect the centre to open.

After the formal presentation, student leaders will help us facilitate feedback from the room on a few topics pertaining to the projects.

We hope you can join us!

Directions to the Combination Room: exit the door on the far north end of Strachan Hall (to the left of the high table). The Combination Room is location at the end of the hallway on your left side. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 | Building on Tradition - Alumni Forum with Provost Mayo Moran

Please join Provost Mayo Moran at an upcoming alumni forum to discuss Trinity College's proposed plans for a new student residence and academic building. 

The Trinity community has always enjoyed a sense of “place” among the College’s beautiful and treasured buildings. Providing our students with an environment that fosters an engaged academic community and offers vibrant, welcoming living spaces are two of our top priorities. Alumni and friends are invited to learn more about our new Student Services Centre currently under construction and our plans to add an inspiring new building to our campus.

To give alumni an opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback, we have scheduled these information sessions hosted by staff and volunteers. Please register now!

Provost Mayo Moran

Thursday, June 28, 2018 | Provost's Message to the Community

Provost Mayo Moran's summer message to the community includes an update about our future campus. Click here to read the full message.

...Across the College, we have also been looking closely at our physical space so we can provide the best learning, living and social environments, while still honouring our historic campus. While Trinity is – and intends to remain – the smallest college, it is clear that our space needs are acute. The residence piece is of particular importance – we are facing unprecedented demand that we cannot currently meet. Over the past 12 months, we have been consulting with members of the community about how to revitalize the Trinity campus. We are still in the early planning phase for a proposed new student residence and academic building. The site with the greatest potential for this new building is the current parking lot immediately north of the Gerald Larkin Building. Further consultations will take place in the coming months as we refine our plans. I would like to thank members of the Board, the Finance Committee and the Campaign Advisory Committee for all their hard work and support. As that process goes forward, we continue to upgrade our current buildings to ensure that we are making the best possible use of them. We have also begun a robust multi-year residence renewal program for our existing buildings and are working to maximize our much needed residential spaces.

Related to this, as you will have seen in the latest issue of Trinity Magazine, we are also working on another important initiative – the new Student Services Centre. It will bring key student services such as the Registrar’s Office and the Dean of Students Office together into one space on the main floor of 6 Hoskin Avenue. A one-stop-shop, the Centre will provide a more accessible experience for students and a warmer welcome for all campus visitors. 

Spring Reunion: Saturday, June 2, 2018 | Building Trinity's Future 

Join Provost Mayo Moran for an information session on plans to revitalize the Trinity College Campus. Details about the College’s new Student Services Centre and a proposed new building and student residence will be discussed followed by a question period. Saturday, June 2 at 3:30 pm in the George Ignatieff Theatre. 

March 16, 2018 | Consultation with Students: Planning for Trinity's New Building

Dear Trinity College Students:

You are invited to attend an information session about Trinity’s planning for a new building on Wednesday, March 21 from 12 pm to 1 pm in the Combination Room (behind Strachan Hall).

At the session, we will provide an overview of the background that has led to why Trinity is considering a new building, followed by an overview of the 2017 community survey results, the planning process and next steps. For the second half of the session, we will invite feedback from participants at three stations around the room, focused on each of the three proposed types of space: common space, academic and teaching space, and residence space. We hope you can join us! 

Additional sessions can be scheduled, so please let us know if you are interested in participating but cannot attend at this time - please email

Kind regards,
Assistant Provost Jonathan Steels

January 10, 2018 | Message to the Community

Dear Members of the Trinity Community: 

As you may know, we have been consulting with members of the Trinity community on our learning, community and living spaces. Thank you to the 600 students, faculty, alumni and staff who completed our online survey last fall. Through these responses, along with other consultations, you have identified priorities and values for both new and existing spaces that support Trinity’s collegiate way of life. These include focusing on the importance of health and well-being, modernization and sustainability. You also told us that students need more spaces for social and group work and faculty-student interaction. You told us we need more teaching and learning space, and of course, more spaces for living on campus. You also want us to protect, preserve and highlight Trinity’s beautiful historic buildings. You have made it clear that Trinity’s needs and aspirations require considerably more space than we currently have. 

Our work with a master planner indicates that the current parking lot immediately north of the Gerald Larkin Building is the site with the greatest potential for a proposed new building. The new building would provide desperately needed residential space for our students. And the preliminary thinking is that the new building would be integrated with a renovated first floor of the Gerald Larkin Building, creating a larger, revitalized communal space. It would also have designated floors of teaching and learning space, which are necessary for our academic programs to continue to flourish.  

We have also consulted with the U of T Community Liaison Committee (which includes University staff and student representatives, city councillor and local residents’ associations) and met with our local city councillor and staff. In anticipation of the various planning processes, we will be preparing an application for rezoning with the City of Toronto. 

While we look to the future, we will continue to focus on supporting the whole student, transforming the student experience at Trinity:

And as we continue to explore options, we will also be working to develop our fundraising capacity to help support any new construction and consulting further with members of our community to refine our plans. This is an exciting time for the College as we imagine the evolution of our glorious historic campus. I hope that you will be part of the conversation and look forward to your thoughts.

Yours truly,

Mayo Moran
Provost and Vice-Chancellor

August 11, 2017 | Stewarding Historic Architecture

In this video, Provost Mayo Moran and Hart House Warden John Monahan ’87 talk about what our beautiful spaces mean to them—and how they are making sure our historic buildings are also meeting the needs of our 21st-century students. Watch the Video 

August 2, 2017 | Message to the Community

Dear Members of the Trinity Community:

A sense of place is so vital – at best it elevates us and connects us in a meaningful way to the world around us. At Trinity College our sense of place is especially profound and that is precisely why “place” is among the three pillars of our Strategic Plan: People, Program and Place.

We treasure the glorious Trinity buildings we have the privilege to steward, striving to ensure that they are cared for and that they improve the lives of those who learn, work and live here. Sometimes this means reclaiming space, as with the beautiful new Archives, which was once an ignored basement. Sometimes it means refashioning spaces so that they work for the Trinity of today, which strives to be an inclusive, welcoming environment.

While we are working hard to refurbish our historic buildings, it is also becoming clear that we simply do not have enough space for all of our people and activities, no matter how well we use what we have. Perhaps this is not surprising – it has been some time since we added significant learning space and today we struggle to find room for classes, programming and professors. In fact, aside from our beautiful John W. Graham Library (opened in 2000), it has been more than 55 years since we added new teaching and learning space (the Gerald Larkin Building was completed in 1961). And while we resolutely remain the smallest college at the University of Toronto, our student body has grown since our early days. Our residence space has increased only marginally (50 beds in St. Hilda’s College in the early 1980s), so too many of our students must live at a great distance, which means they cannot experience college life to the fullest. They tell us that they want to spend more time here – studying, interacting socially, being immersed in collegial life, and indeed living in residence. Unfortunately, we cannot meet their needs. I believe that we can do better for our outstanding students.

Renewing the Trinity Campus

This is why renewal of our campus is of such vital importance. Over the past year, our initial conversations with students, faculty, staff and the larger Trinity community have made it clear that our aspirations cannot be achieved unless we add more space. We have listened and engaged a master planner to help us consider our options. We have also conducted a comprehensive needs assessment, reviewed the state of our facilities and campus footprint, and analyzed current and forecasted needs.

This groundwork has made it evident that a new building will most likely be required to respond to the significant unmet need for study and social space for students, for teaching and learning space for the College’s academic programs, and for residential space for Trinity students. We are early in the process of examining the potential of the Trinity campus as it relates to municipal bylaws and are working with the ongoing University of Toronto St. George Campus Secondary planning process and with relevant leaders at the College, U of T and the City of Toronto. We will also be assessing our fundraising capacity to help support any new construction and refurbishment of existing spaces on campus.

However important need is, Trinity’s physical space has never just been about need – it has also been about our values and our aspirations. So too is it today: only by creating inspiring learning, living and social spaces can we honour our traditions and complement our beautiful historic campus. Trinity has always aspired to be part of creating a better world – our space must also strive to reflect our core values of excellence, inclusion and sustainability. Above all else, Trinity is about community and that is why we want to hear your views.

Join the Conversation

In the months ahead, we will be continuing to have many place-oriented conversations on campus. We want to know what is important to you. I encourage you to share your thoughts about the kinds of spaces that are essential to fostering the engaged college community that is at the heart of Trinity College. You can complete the short survey here (survey is now closed - send your comments and feedback to 

Over the coming months, we will be holding a series of consultations with members of our community as we consider our options and develop a plan for our future campus. We will also be working closely with our partners at the University and the City throughout the process. Updates and announcements will be posted on this webpage, so please do return here often. You can also get in touch with us at

Trinity College has always been about how our shared values, expressed in architecture new and old, can foster the flourishing of every member of this very special collegiate community. This is an incredibly exciting time as we imagine the evolution of our glorious historic campus. I hope that you will be part of the conversation and look forward to your thoughts.

Mayo Moran
Provost and Vice-Chancellor