The crowning jewel on Progress

By Cheryl Long

Centennial Residence and Culinary Arts Centre Brochure

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One of the newest additions to Centennial College is on track to welcome students next fall for the 2016-17 school year. The Centennial Residence and Culinary Arts Centre, a project in the making since 2012, is a multi-function structure designed to not only house students on its residence floors but also offer conference space and serve as the new home of the college’s School of Hospitality, Tourism &Culinary Arts.

The innovative eight-storey residence is located on the school’s main campus on Progress Avenue in Toronto. An architecturally striking building with its unique quadrangle shape, glass walls and central courtyard, it will provide space for 740 students in two- and four-bedroom suites (each student has a private bedroom) with one bathroom per every two bedrooms and a full kitchen in every suite. Communal kitchens and lounge space will be located on each floor, which are secure and inaccessible from the public sections of the building. A 24/7 concierge desk, similar to what would be found in a condominium building, will ensure that the only people accessing the residence floors are those authorized to do so.

Priced at close to $90 million with funding through the college’s development partner, Knightstone Capital Management, the new residence will replace a smaller building across the street – an old hotel the college bought and renovated in 2001 – andwill be open to students attending any of its four Toronto-area campuses. Demand for student housing at Centennial has outgrown the capacity of its existing 340-bed residence and the new 353,000-square-foot building is expected to draw an influx of students who live outside a reasonable commuting distance.

“The entire building is framed out,” said Mark Simpson, Manager, Renovations & Special Projects for Centennial College. “By early to mid-December it’s going to look like a completed building from the outside. The majority of the work after December will be interior finishing with, of course, landscaping to follow in the spring of 2016.”

Key partners in the project include designers Diamond Schmitt Architects, construction company FRAM Building Group and Canadian Campus Communities, the company that will operate the finished residence. Knightstone has been responsible for the planning, financing, construction and management of the project. So far, the project has stayed on track in terms of timeline and budget.

“With the new building and the features that the building provides, it’s going to be an absolutely beautiful place to live for our students,” said Shannon Brooks, Associate VP, Corporate Services at Centennial College. “We’reactually building a model suite inside the main campus here so that students and parents can see what is coming, andhave the opportunity to look andtouch and feelwhat a typical residence suite would look like,” Simpson added.

The building’s lower level, which is partlybelow grade but has a walk-out feature, will house the school’s Culinary Arts Centre, shifting classes that are currently operating out of the existing residence building across the street into seven kitchen labs and nine new classrooms with capacity for up to 600 students. The new space will allow the college to double its labs and increase programming while repurposing some of the culinary school’s existing equipment. It will also offer “grab and go” and sit-downmeals to students, staff and the general public in its new teaching restaurant operated by the school’s culinary arts students. Because the restaurant space will double as a demonstration kitchen, restaurant visitors will be able to watch the chefs of tomorrow perfect their skills while enjoying their meals. The public will be able to stroll through other areas in the lower level where large screens will broadcast the activities taking place inside kitchen labs.

The building’s top floor will serve as a conference and banquet centre with capacity for 425 people. Available for both school and public functions, the space will be infused with natural light and accessible from its own private elevator and entrance. The conference centre will be operated by the school and hospitality students.

Inside the residence, furnished lounge spaces will be designed to encouragestudent-friendly activities, Brooks said. “You’ll find there may be a movie room, there may be a library or study room, maybe an exercise or yoga-themed room. Each of the lounge areas will be themed with the furniture and supplies within it to facilitate certain types of activities that the students may like to partake in,” she explained. Outside, the quadrangle shape will allow for a central courtyard that will not only let more natural light into the residence rooms but provide a green space for student gatherings.

Centennial College has a mandate to build using LEED-certified strategies and materials, and the Residence and Culinary Arts Centre is no exception. The facility will be designed to LEED Gold standardswith a focus on sustainable green practices as they apply to the hospitality industry. “Reduce, reuse and recycle” will be a priority given the amount of potential waste generated by both the culinary centre and the student residence. Students will be encouraged to sort their garbage and take advantage of the recycling rooms on each floor; there may also be an opportunity for the centre to get involved in a composting program to manage organic waste.

While there are always challenges with any construction project, no matter the magnitude, this particular endeavour required that many different partners come together to work in a unified and collaborative fashion. Combining an extensive team that included architects, builders, operations people and management meant setting up a strict working group structure with representatives from each partner, Brooks said.

“We’re finding the process has worked out very, very well for us so far,” she said.The college has worked with Diamond Schmitt on a previous project but it’s their first time partnering with Knightstone, which brought in Canadian Campus Communities to operate the residence, Brooks explained.

Though opening day is still months away, the Centennial Residence and Culinary Arts Centre is already getting its share of the limelight. In March, the college received an Entrepreneurship Award from Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) in the category of College and Institute Entrepreneurial Ventures for the new centre’s commitment to both innovation and entrepreneurship.

Marketing for the new residence spaces is underway, and students are already expressing interest in securing a room for next fall. A model suite opened in mid-November, staffed by representatives who can answer questions posed by parents and prospective students.

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