documentation and conservation
of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods
of the modern movement
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    Massey College

    4 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON.
    architect(s):
    constructed: 1963
    heritage recognition:

    “Massey College is a skillful and humane interpretation of Arts and Crafts sensibilities in a modernist idiom. It is remarkable for its seamless integration of exterior and interior design, including the rich detailing of its custom furnishings and fittings. It has aged well, and is one of the University of Toronto’s most treasured modern buildings.” — Prix du XXe Siecle Jury, 2013

    Completed in 1963 by the renowned Canadian Architect Ron Thom, while he was working with Thompson, Berwick and Pratt Massey College remains an important building in Canadian architectural history.  The building’s design was inspired by the Medieval Oxbridge style college with an inward focused plan with each of the College’s buildings being accessible from a central quadrangle.  The exterior street frontages are well-scaled and primarily finished in a speckled buff-coloured brick that shimmers in the sunlight with bronze and stone highlights.  In order to break down the building’s exterior and compensate for the judicious placement of windows, the building is generally kept low with hints of the interior elements visible above, often finished in stone, including the clerestory windows of the dining hall.

    Entry into the quadrangle is provided via two passages , the main entry off of Devonshire Place and a secondary entry off of a rear laneway.  The courtyard contains cloistered green space, pond with fountain at the south end and St. Catherine’s Bell in the clock tower.  Five residential “houses” surround the north, east and west sides of the quad, typically with administrative space  on the ground floor.  Massey College’s largest building, located at the southern edge of the quad contains the majority of the communal spaces including dining halls, common rooms, upper and lower libraries and seminar rooms.  The large dining room is one of the highlights of the College and is a favourite of people photographing the building.

    St. Catherine’s Chapel, a non-denominational space of worship within Massey College was revitalized in 2006 by Shim-Sutcliffe.

    Heritage Recognition

    Part 4 Heritage Designation under the Ontario heritage Act, 1989

    Public Access

    In case your interested, you can stay at Massey College during the summer months (May 1 to August 27), while you are in Toronto.  The building is centrally located in downtown Toronto with easy access to the subway.  The nearest major cross street is St. George Street and Bloor Street West.  The link to summer rentals at Massey College is here.

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    documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the modern movement