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    Trent University

    Bata Library
    0 visual documentation
    depicted item: Bata Library, on the banks of the Otonobee River
    source: Photograph, Chris Warden
    date accessed: February 29, 2008
    1 identity of building, group of buildings, urban scheme, or landscape/garden
    address: Highway 28 North, Peterborough, ON., Canada
    protection: None
    2 history of building

    original brief/purpose:

    University based on college system combining residential with academic buildings on a campus of 1400 acres, spanning the banks of the Otanabee River, Peterborough, Ontario.

    commission/completion dates: 1963-1969

    other designer(s):

    North Bridge:
    Project Architects· Paul Merrick, D.M. Sai·Chew
    Engineers· Structural, M.S. Yolles & Partners; Mechanical & Electrical, Crossey Langlois Firman
    General Contractor· Varmae Construction

    Champlain College:
    Project Architects· R.J. Thom, P. Bernard
    Engineers·Structural, M.S. Yolles & Partners; Mech. & Electrical, Crossey Langlois Firman
    General Contractor- Foundation Company

    Project Architects· P. Smith, D.M. Sai·Chew, P. Merrick
    Engineers· Structural, M.S. Yolies & Partners; Mech. & Electrical, Crossey Langlois Firman
    General Contractor· Eastern Construction Co.

    Chemistry Building:
    Project Architects· P. Merrick, D.M. Sai·Chew
    Engineers·Structural, M.S. Yolles & Partners; Mech. & Electrical, Crossey Langlois Firman
    General Contractor· Varmae Construction

    Lady Eaton College:
    Project Architects· A. Grant, D.M. Sal·Chew
    Engineers·Structural, M.S. Yolles & Partners; Mech. & Electrical, Granek and Chisvin
    General Contractor- Fuller Construction

    significant alterations with dates:

    1992 Oct.: Environmental Science Centre Building - Architect, Richard Henriquez New building in the science complex.
    1975: Otanabee Collega - Architect, Macy Dubois

    current use: Academic, residential, and administrative facilities
    3 description

    general description:

    Trent University was conceived as a college campus system, a form of university organization without precedence in Canada. Planning had to commence, therefore, at a very basic level and it took one year before any building design was considered. The development of the Master Plan was made by the simultaneous contributions and interactions of academic planning committees, structural engineers and architects. This process produced a circulatory system for people, goods and services• a system to which an infinite number of building developments could be added In the future. The full development plan consisted of: fourteen colleges, centralized science facilities, a main library, theatre, field house, commercial village and other required service buildings.

    Trent University is located on a 1500•acre site, straddling the Otanabee River, about two and a half miles from Peterborough. Because the campus is largely composed of separate colleges with a broad body of water running through it, the idea of a "megastructure university" is inappropriate. It is conceived more like a "human path" or rout• ing project where inter-disciplinary buildings are connected by pedestrian sidewalks. The whole scheme forms a trio angle for movement flow, with two of the arms serving as foot-bridges across the river. This outlines the complex core and buildings clustered around the water's edge. The large central library and university court form one apex. In the triangular pedestrian scheme. Radiating eastward, across the Otanabee River, the second apex is formed by the Science Centre. South of this complex, the "village" area completes the scheme with the second bridge which connects the library and university court. The colleges would surround this core and were planned to be constructed over a period of twenty years. The original plan was never fully completed. The provincial government and the universally committee decided to reduce the size of the project and to specialize Trent University as a smaller liberal arts and science undergraduate Institution. Nevertheless, the library, the two colleges, the Chemistry Building and the bridge that were constructed give testimony to the quality of its design.

    The plan of the library is essentially two squares superimposed on one another so that they form a star shape when viewed from above. In the centre is a large open stairway which is lit by an immense skylight. This permits natural light to enter the Inner confines of the building. On each floor level, surrounding glass walls keep out the noise while permitting light to enter. Each level of the library overlooks the tranquil river below. In the exterior, rubble aggregate concrete walls create a dramatic colour effect and integrate the complex with their surroundings.

    Champlain College and Lady Eaton College were the first two colleges built. Both of them are linked to the University Court. Champlain College, the men's college, is structured like a minor path off the main walking network. The plan itself is divided Into four parts, comprising a dining hall and kitchen area, two residential units and a Master's house. While the communal areas have been designed as meeting places to encourage interchange among all members, the study-bedrooms are designed to allow privacy. Lady Eaton College, the women's college, is located east of the University Court. Basically triangular in plan, the college surrounds a large courtyard which gives access to the peripheral residential units. By the variation of forms and the play of light, the visual intensity of the mass in both complexes is reduced. The buildings are capable of blending in with their surroundings.

    On the other side of the river, the first element of the Science complex to be built was the Chemistry building. Built on a series of levels, the Chemistry building allows for a variety of different visual perspectives. East of the Science complex, the Otonabee College was built years later by architect Macy Dubois. This was the last of the colleges to be built.

    Nevertheless, the project in general exhibits a masterly understanding of scale and is a combination of environment and architecture. More than an "architectural style", it captures a spirit of repose in which aesthetic stimulation is combined with scholarly pursuits.

    4 evaluation


    - Masterplan design based on colleges, promoting an education at a more personal level, where mixed uses are unified by a circulatory network

    cultural & aesthetic:

    -The unique aesthetic combines architecture, engineering and nature in a unified composition
    -The landscape is a key element in organizing the campus plan, with buildings blending with the contour of the landscape
    - A great sensitivity to light and shadow and scale
    - Consistent design guidelines for many buildings built over different periods limited palette of materials to reinforced concrete, timber and rubble aggregate concrete


    International College & University Conference & Exposition, Atlantic City, N.J., 1970: 4 Citations of Excellence in Architecture (4 buildings)
    Toronto Chapter of OAA Annual Design Award, 1970: Thomas J. Bata Library
    National Design Council Merit Award, 1971: Champlain College & Reginald Faryon Bridge
    - Included in list of "significant architecture of last quarter century" Canadian Architect, Nov. 1980.

    general assessment:

    - Major social achievement in the refiguring of the academic organization, In contrast to the centralized structures typical of Canadian universities

    5 documentation

    principal references:

    Fabiana Sinbrich rapporteur/date:

    Original records found in tha Archives of the University of Calgary
    Original drawings of R.J. Thom found in the archives of the University of Calgary
    Aerial video report, University of Trent
    "Ron Thom's Architecture for Trent University", Artscanada, June 1969
    "Universities", Canadian Interiors, Maclean-Hunter Publication, Toronto, May 1972
    "The Thom Partnership", Canadian Interiors, Maclean-Hunter PUblication, Toronto, May 1979
    Architectural Record (USA)
    Artscanada (Canada)
    Baumeister (Germany)
    Canadian Architect
    Canadian Interiors
    Time Magazine (USA)
    Canadian Architecture 1960170. Carol Moore Ede, Burns & MacEarn Ltd., Toronto, 1971

    RLTD news

    At a moment of architectural crisis, Trent University is retaining Canada’s modern heritage

    The institution is engaged in a careful renovation of its original Bata Library, while new projects are being guided by attention to the original campus In the early morning flurry, snow kisses the brick path and covers the nubby face of the concrete walls as I walk through a narrow passage between two walls studded […]


    Trent looking for feedback on its new student centre

    As part of developing the design for a new student centre, Trent University has posted three different design approaches, prepared by Teeple Architects, to there web site here .  The options are as follows (from the Trent University web site): Design A is a two-storey building that stretches the of the site from the Bata Library to the […]


    Teeple Architects Inc. selected to bring vision for new Student Centre to life at Trent’s Symons Campus

    The highly-anticipated new Student Centre at Trent University, envisioned as an opportunity to enhance Trent’s well-known outstanding student experience, took an important step forward today with the official selection of Teeple Architects Inc. as the architectural firm that will bring the vision of this important new building on Trent’s Symons Campus in Peterborough to life. […]

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