Tomorrow’s Health Professionals Get Cutting-Edge Lab Spaces

As the saying goes, it’s a good problem to have: Ryerson University’s unprecedented program growth meant pressure for a new student space, to offer world-class programs to its 45,300 students, and 3,800 faculty and staff.

On November 26th, 2019, the official opening of the Daphne Cockwell Health Sciences Complex (DCC) answered the issues. The DCC provides much needed learning and research space for Ryerson students and faculty to make a sustainable, positive impact on the community.

Located at 288 Church Street, the DCC brings under one roof academic programs including the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, School of Occupational and Public Health, School of Nutrition and Midwifery Education Program. Other notable features include green roofs, secure storage for 184 bicycles and the Creative Technology Lab, which contains the latest prototyping technology. The DCC was designed by internationally acclaimed architectural firm Perkins + Will and constructed by Eastern Construction Company Ltd.

“The DCC allows Ryerson opportunities to expand academic programs; it brings together four Faculty of Community Services (FCS) schools and is now also home to the Faculty of Communication & Design’s (FCAD) Creative Technology Lab and the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching,” says Paul Chung, Senior Project Manager. “The new building provides those schools with state-of-the-art tools and environments to better prepare students for the workplace, as well as enable interdisciplinary and cross-program collaboration opportunities.”

Four years in the making, the grand opening was “a huge success”, according to Chung. “That both Jack Cockwell, Ryerson’s long-time supporter, and the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities were able to join the celebration meant a lot to us. In addition to students, faculty and staff, we were also fortunate to have the architects, builders and Ryerson project team at the event as well,” he says. “It was incredible to see so many members of the community gathered to mark the grand opening.”

What will the DCC bring to the ryerson campus overall?

The DCC will provide a state-of-the-art facility that fosters collaboration, innovation and interdisciplinary work. The building’s key academic features include: Clinical experience suites; modular teaching labs; high-fidelity simulation suites; debriefing rooms; formal and informal study spaces; and FCAD’s Creative Technology Lab.

Its location facing Church Street, between Gould and Dundas Street East, is in the heart of the campus and has been designed to create connections within the building and with life outside, while also maximizing the land available for university uses. This has been achieved through a high percentage of windows at street-level, the deliberate placement of east-west doors to create traffic through its main floor, and numerous “observation points” within and outside the building – including a lane-facing window looking into the basement fabrication zone.

“In many ways, the project is an expression of Ryerson’s Master Plan, as it provides outstanding design that reflects downtown Toronto while enhancing the pedestrian experience within a compact campus,” says Chung. “The Daphne Cockwell project involved the complete redevelopment of a surface parking lot into a state-of-the-art teaching, study and residence building serving numerous departments. The project involved substantial consultations with students, faculty members, service providers and neighbours in order to achieve an urban form and final design that responded to the university’s needs while respecting the needs of others.”

Users of the building were at the heart of the design, and accessibility was a top priority. Chung says all classrooms, labs, offices and entrances are accessible. All academic student spaces, such as classrooms, labs and seminar rooms, have assistive listening technology to improve communication for individuals who are hard of hearing. The system can be accessed using wireless headphones or through an app on a user’s phone. Barrier-free washrooms are available on all floors and the building has an infant feeding room, which is available to all members of the Ryerson community.

Environmental Stewardship

As part of Ryerson’s commitment to advancing sustainability on campus and within its community and our dedication to reducing our energy consumption and reducing our carbon footprint, the DCC was designed to meet robust sustainability targets, says Chung, and has met LEED Gold certification targets.

Of particular interest is the urban farming which will operate on a portion of its roof. “This will be the first purpose-built green roof for food production under the established Toronto Green Roof By-law,” says Chung. “It will expand the capacity of the Ryerson Urban Farm which operates on a neighbouring building and grows fresh vegetables that are used by Ryerson Food Services and sold on campus.”